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Old 01-09-2013, 10:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: Rusty Articles and News 2013

Hewitt's form rising ahead of Open

Finally pain-free, Lleyton Hewitt served up a warning to his Australian Open rivals when he upset Canadian world No.15 Milos Raonic at the Kooyong Classic.

Hewitt, whose ranking of 82 leaves him at the mercy of the Open draw, was out to prove he could tangle with anyone in the early rounds at Melbourne Park next week.

The 31-year-old, who defeated Raonic in their only previous meeting at last year’s Australian Open, turned on a three-set boilover to prevail 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4) at a windswept Kooyong.
Winner of the Kooyong title two years ago, Hewitt said his first lead-up match provided him with the competition and confidence he needed leading into his Open campaign.

‘‘It was good but obviously they were really tough conditions for everyone out there playing today,’’ Hewitt said.

‘‘But that’s what you come to expect coming to Kooyong and centre court - it’s always tough with the wind.
‘‘It’s sort of blustery and very tough to get a guide on actually which way it’s going.’’
But he said playing well under the circumstances would be a benefit ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

‘‘A lot of it is playing percentage tennis out there but also you’ve got hit your spots and [have] good movement and mental toughness.’’
Hewitt said being able to tame the big Canadian’s serve also gave him cause for optimism.

‘‘You feel like you get a lot of half chances out there and he takes them away from you straight away so to keep plugging away and keep giving yourself those opportunities, is the perfect kind of preparation and hit-out that I needed.’’

Hewitt said he was feeling competitive again after overcoming a foot injury which hampered him last year.
‘‘I feel pretty sharp out there at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘Return-wise, he’s got one of the biggest serves out there, and in tough conditions, whatever I could get my racquet on I put him under pressure most times.

‘‘There’s a lot of positives but there’s always areas you feel like you can do a little bit better.’’
Hewitt reached the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open, but got there under severe duress.

‘‘Mentally it was very wearing for me last year,’’ he said. ‘‘I had an injection before any warm-up hit before a match.
‘‘I don’t know how many injections I had last January - it was getting out of control.

‘‘For me it makes me happier to be out there, doing the hard work and not grimacing every time you’ve got to do something ... you’ve just got to push through the pain the whole time.’’

Earlier, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro defeated Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3).

But the tournament was hit by more injury withdrawals with Serbian world No.9 Janko Tipsarevic (wrist) joining Japan’s Kei Nishikori (knee) and Argentinian Juan Monaco (hand) on the sidelines.
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