Australian Open 2016: Lleyton Hewitt's career ends

    Story highlights

    • Tennis veteran beaten at Australian Open
    • Hewitt plays final singles match of career
    • Tributes from tennis greats

    Melbourne (CNN)His distinctive roars of "come on" will be no longer on the men's tennis tour.

    Lleyton Hewitt played the last singles match of his successful, injury-hit career Thursday, sent into retirement by David Ferrer at his home grand slam in Melbourne.
    The eighth seed from Spain prevailed 6-2 6-4 6-4, then left the court as tributes poured in for the 34-year-old who contested his 20th straight -- and final -- Australian Open.
    Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were among those who spoke via recorded messages played on a big screen at Rod Laver Arena, which brought the normally hard-nosed Hewitt close to tears.
    The former No. 1 and twice grand slam champion was joined on court by his young children, daughters Mia and Ava and son Cruz. Actress wife Bec Cartwright couldn't hold back tears as she watched from the players' box.
    "Tonight is the day for him, not for me," said Ferrer, who has a signed t-shirt from Hewitt at home in Spain.
    Ferrer controlled the second-round match following an even start, with Hewitt needing treatment from the trainer for a leg issue and then later taking a medical timeout. It was likely the result of match activity for Hewitt, whose previous tournament was the U.S. Open last August.
    Ferrer cruised in the first set and any thoughts of a Hewitt comeback were foiled late in the second when he failed to convert seven break points in a 14-minute game trailing 4-3.
    The match officially ended when Ferrer forced his opponent into a backhand miss.
    At the net, the players had a long conversation.
    It's the last time Hewitt, who will now coach Australia's Davis Cup team, will find himself in that position.
    "It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there," Hewitt told reporters. "A couple of the roars during the match tonight was as loud as I've ever played in front of. I was getting goosebumps at times.
    "Obviously just watching the video and hearing those great players talk about you in that light, you know, was pretty emotional.
    "Especially when I got back in the locker room, I guess that hits you a little bit more then. When I'm with my close friends and coaching staff that have helped me so much out, yeah, it's sort of a strange feeling because you're obviously disappointed not to keep going, but obviously proud of everything we've done as well."