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Australians slip on Wimbledon turf

sports Updated: Jun 28, 2012 00:49 IST
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Wimbledon's honours board is littered with Australian greats but the gradual decline in the country's fortunes on the famous lawns reached a new low on Tuesday when, for the first time since 1938, they failed to get a man into the second round.

Lleyton Hewitt, the last Australian to win the title in 2002, was beaten in straight sets by fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, new kid on the block Bernard Tomic capitulated against a Belgian wildcard and Matthew Ebden was also bundled out.

Not since Mark Philippoussis was beaten by Roger Federer in the 2003 final has an Australian threatened the men's crown.

It is all a far cry from the country's halcyon days when the likes of the John Newcombe, champion in 1967, 1970 and 1971, and before him Rod Laver, who claimed four titles, were dominating.

Add in the names of other champions such as Pat Cash, Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall, who threatened regularly but never won the title, and the contrast to this year is stark.

Hewitt can be excused having represented his country with pride over the years.

The 31-year-old has defied a series of injuries to extend his career and needed a wildcard this year. He lost 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to Tsonga on Tuesday.