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Lleyton brings out the big guns



TENNIS great Lleyton Hewitt promised to bring the big names to Sydney and he's already delivering.

And the event, the Apia International at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, is still seven weeks away.

After signing on in September as an ambassador for Sydney's biggest tennis event, Hewitt is backing up his words to turn the Apia International Sydney 2012 - which begins on January 8 - into a world-class event.

The 30-year-old dual Grand Slam champion yesterday unveiled his plans alongside friend and former Home and Away star Kate Ritchie for the first Apia International Sydney Lleyton Hewitt Charity Day on November 27 at Homebush to raise funds for the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Ritchie, who is close to Hewitt and his wife, Bec, will be joined by GWS Giants AFL convert Israel Folau, Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri, Aussie cricketer Brett Lee and other high-profile names.

Australian tennis greats including Pat Rafter, John Newcombe and Bernard Tomic have also been head-hunted by Hewitt.

"It's not easy. I tell you it's not easy," Hewitt said of playing the part of event organiser.

"But the guys who are coming have really put their hands up."
 

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Discussion Starter #2
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/hewitt-to-support-adelaides-cup-bid/story-e6frecj3-1226198345263

Hewitt to support Adelaide's Cup bid

LLEYTON Hewitt's manager says the proud South Aussie will support a bid to bring the Davis Cup to Adelaide.

Tennis Australia is considering staging the February tie against China at Memorial Drive.

It would be the city's first Davis Cup clash in eight years.

Perth and regional Victorian centres Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton and Mildura are also vying to host the February 10-12 tie.

Hewitt's manager David Drysdale said the former world No. 1 would relish the chance to play in front of his local supporters.

"He would be rapt if it was in Adelaide to play in front of a home crowd, which I don't think he has since the Adelaide International," Drysdale said.

"He'll always be an Adelaide boy and would enjoy the home crowd.

"So if there's an opportunity for Adelaide to host it, I think he'd support it."

Hewitt is Australia's most successful Davis Cup player, with a 47-14 win/loss record.

Drysdale said the 30-year-old was preparing for a return to training ahead of the Australian summer and season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne.

"He's looking forward to an injury-free year," he said.
 

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http://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/...n-champion-says-edmondson-20111121-1nqxx.html

Nation may have long wait for new open champion, says Edmondson

THE last homegrown Australian Open men's champion, Mark Edmondson, sees no short-term end to what is now a 35-year title drought but notes in teenager Bernard Tomic an unusual talent and in veteran Lleyton Hewitt a champion who has earned the right to continue for as long as he wishes.
Edmondson, the 1976 open winner , is reluctant to burden Tomic with the label of Australia's next great player but believes the Wimbledon quarter-finalist has unorthodox strengths that cannot be taught.

''I see a very unusual game, which is a plus, because when guys are expecting you to do a, b and c and you're doing x, y and z, it mixes them up and some of them are so unfamiliar with change,'' Edmondson said.

''Everybody's very similar in the game now - it's just that some are better - but Bernard has got a game that is awkward and different. He seems to be able to change his pace dramatically and that's something that's just a talent, not something that you can teach.''

Although world No.42 Tomic has boldly predicted he will claim his first major title within 18 months, Edmondson forecast a more conservative timetable and said world No.6 and US Open titleholder Sam Stosur was Australia's next realistic chance to win the national championship.

For those still emerging, the former world No.15 and Wimbledon semi-finalist believes there is still some time to wait.

''I'd love it to happen straight away but even if the current regime of programs at Tennis Australia do work, it's possibly five to 10 years away from fulfilment,'' Edmondson said.
Tomic remains the standout prospect, but Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter said yesterday that ''only Bernie will know when he's ready to go''.

Rafter has previously questioned Tomic's commitment and work ethic, sentiments echoed yesterday after it was announced the singles champion at next year's Brisbane International would receive the Roy Emerson Trophy.

While lauding Tomic's touch and variety, Rafter said: ''I expected him to be top 50 this year, and he got there, so it's a good effort … and now he's got to come to terms with his next step in development and what he needs to do to go on to the next level and be a top 15 player, and he needs to just develop that part of his game now.

''Hopefully he's learnt, he's played a lot of the top 10 players … and he's got a bit of a taste of what's required, and if he doesn't take that on board he'll stay where he is; if he wants to make the next progression he'll have to change his game a little bit.
''A lot's been talked about with Bernard, time will tell if he can back all that up … he certainly has something very unique about his game.''

Hewitt, Australia's only male finalist in 35 years, has sagged to 187th in the rankings but Edmondson was adamant that only Hewitt should decide when to quit.

''You play because you love the game. You don't play because you're the best in the world and, 'If I'm not best in the world I'm going to take my bat and ball and go home,''' he said. ''I'm sure when it gets to the stage where Lleyton isn't up to what he thinks he can achieve, he'll say: 'I can't play any more.'

''It's all very good for the people who aren't playing to say: 'Oh you should quit because you can't win Wimbledon.' Well, bugger off. There's a lot of players that never have that opportunity to win Wimbledon in the first place but they play for 15 or 20 years.'
 

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John Fitzgerald say only Lleyton Hewitt can decide when to retire

FORMER Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald says Lleyton Hewitt has earned the right to decide when to call time on a stellar tennis career rather than being hounded into retirement.

Despite his struggle with injuries and lack of match play which have left him languishing at 189 in the world, Hewitt has given no indication he plans to quit.

The former world No.1 has played just nine tournaments and two Davis Cup ties this year, with his best results being two quarter-final appearances.

But Fitzgerald believes another season on the circuit from Hewitt would still prove valuable inspiration for rising Australian youngsters.

"I think the bottom line with Lleyton is he probably should have the prerogative himself of deciding himself when he goes,'' Fitzgerald said.

"He deserves that, but I hope he can stay around and help give kids inspiration for another year or so.''

However he hinted strongly that 2012 could be Hewitt's final year on the tour.

"He was No.1 when he was in his early 20s and that was an 18-month stretch but he's at the end of that decade now so logic says at some stage your body can start to slow down,'' Fitzgerald said.

"His injuries have hurt him over the last couple of years so his biggest issue is getting them right.

"If he can do that, that can be the difference, but as you get older your body becomes more prone to them.''

Fitzgerald also sees Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic, the world's top-ranked 18-year-old, stepping into Hewitt's shoes soon.

He said the clay-court experience of Tomic and other Australians now raised on clay will help them on grass.

"What clay does is teach kids their craft, it gives them a chance to learn a multi-dimensional craft,'' Fitzgerald said.

"If you've got a low, fast-bouncing court you don't get to learn all the different nuances of playing.

"All of that comes with clay and you can transfer that onto a faster court quite easily.

"It's very difficult to do the reverse.''
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Lleyton's blog

25 November 2011

Hi everyone,

I am back in Sydney and have been busy putting together a large tennis charity day that will be happening @ Sydney Olympic Tennis Center this Sunday 27th November 2011.

There will be plenty of Australia's best tennis players partnering Australian celebrities. Shannon Noll will also be performing some of his great hits on centre court. Everyone that attends also has the chance to win a raffle prize to partner myself and Patrick Rafter on centre court for a game of doubles. Other activities include Returning The Gooch and Serving at targets for great prizes. All money raised is going to a great cause as it goes straight to The Westmead Children's Hospital.

We really hope everyone comes out for a great day of fun and entertainment and the chance to be part of some money can't buy activities.

Look forward to seeing everyone out there on Sunday!
Gates open @ 11.00am.

Lleyton
 

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Discussion Starter #6
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/t...n-hewitts-agenda/story-e6frfgao-1226206478566

Retirement not on Lleyton Hewitt's agenda

THE competitive fire still burns brightly for Lleyton Hewitt as he counts down the days to a 15th straight Australian Open campaign.

The 30-year-old has done it tough in an injury-afflicted 2011 as his world ranking slipped to No.189.

But the former world No.1 has no plans to call it a day.

"I'm more hungry now than a few years ago purely because I've had to fight back from the surgeries," Hewitt said yesterday.

"The great thing about tennis is that it's an individual sport and I can call time on it whenever I want to.

"It's not like I'm going to get sacked or pushed out of the game or dropped and it doesn't matter what anyone writes, it's up to me and how motivated I am."

Hewitt has fought back from a string of injuries, including hip surgery in 2009, leg and wrist problems in 2010 and a niggling ankle complaint earlier this year.

"As you get older you're always more prone to getting injuries," Hewitt said.

"Mentally I've had to come back from some solid injuries the last couple of years so I've been pretty mentally tough and done all the right things, so apart from the foot, the body feels great."

He will begin his domestic summer campaign at the Hopman Cup in Perth on New Year's Eve, followed by the Sydney International and the Australian Open.

However, Hewitt doesn't pretend it's going to be easy.

He played just nine tournaments and two Davis Cup ties this year, with his best results being two quarter-final appearances. AAP
 

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http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...r-lleyton-hewitt/story-e6frey69-1226206567742

There's more to life than tennis for Lleyton Hewitt

LLEYTON Hewitt opens up to Andrew Webster in an exclusive interview about fatherhood, the future and advice for rising star Bernard Tomic.

Let's get it on the table straight away: So, Lleyton, when are you retiring?

Lleyton Hewitt thumps the question back like a two-handed backhand from the baseline.

"It doesn't really bother me," he says. "I'm fortunate: I can play as long as I want to play. There's no coach or trainer who is going to say to me that I'm dropped or sacked, it's time to move on. I can play as long as I want to play."

Hewitt - now 30 - doesn't tell you this with the impudence and arrogance some would expect.

He doesn't rub your nose in the question. He doesn't think you are "hounding" him with talk of ending it, as former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald has recently accused the media of doing.

He says it with a smile on a face that doesn't look too different to the teenager from Adelaide who ripped on to the scene more than a decade ago.

For all his success - Wimbledon and US Open crowns, Davis Cup heroics, 18 months as world No.1 - a great unknown remains when it comes to Hewitt.

We still don't know him.

In this interview, though, beneath bleak skies at the Sydney International Tennis Centre, ahead of tomorrow's star-studded charity event, he lets us in. Just a little.

"There are people who love you and people who hate you, but for me more so people only think they know me by how I act or perform on a tennis court," he says. "I'm more in that Rafa Nadal high-energy high-octane mould out there. I wear that emotion on the court. That's how I play my best tennis. People either like that or not. And I can't change that: that's who I am on a tennis court."

Last summer, his commentary at the Hopman Cup and then for Seven during the Australian Open showed us much more of Hewitt off the court than we have ever seen. We could hear him.

"Absolutely it opened me up to the public more," he says enthusiastically. "Tennis players go into a press conference and almost every one of them is the same. We do very little differently on a day-to-day basis. You have to play a straight bat, purely because you'll get bagged if you don't. Anything too controversial or out there, they jump on you."

The softening of Hewitt's image has come with maturity and time. Marriage and fatherhood.

His marriage to Home and Away star Bec Cartwright became tabloid fodder early on, but now they have a young family - with daughters Mia and Ava and son Cruz - the pursuit has slowed down.

When you hear Hewitt talk about his kids, he reveals a sense of perspective that wasn't there as a brattish baseline brawler upsetting umpires and linespeople.

"The charity event on Sunday is for Westmead Children's Hospital," he says "It hits home when you have kids. When the parents there tell you what they are going through, it's brutal. That's when it hits home that tennis is just a game. Just a sport. There is more to life than hitting a tennis ball."

Did Hewitt ever think he would ever say such a thing?

"I don't think my mind has changed that much in terms of life. When you are 16 on the tour, and that's the only thing you've ever dreamt of doing, your mind thinks one way. Marriage and children has changed my perspective. Even now with travelling to play, jetlag goes out the window. You work around your kids. When you lose a tough five-setter at Wimbledon and your kid runs up to you, it hits home that is just a tennis match."

That perspective has not sated his hunger, although his desire to keep going is born out of frustration.

He admits hip surgery three years ago almost prompted him to walk away, but in the last year it is chronic foot pain that forced him to bravely limp through Australia's last Davis Cup against Switzerland before calling an end to tennis for the year.

"It's about trying to finish my career in the least amount of pain as possible," says Hewitt. "I've done too much hard work and gone through too much pain to stop playing now. Only my close-knit team know what I've had to go through to keep bouncing back and fronting up. That's a driving force more than anything. Unless the foot blew up, I won't be stopping."

Hewitt will make a return for his country in the Hopman Cup, before using the Apia International - of which he is now an ambassador, wanting to promote tennis in NSW - as the springboard to another tilt at the Australian Open.

Not that long ago, in 2005, Hewitt was riding the lightning in that tournament, a nation behind him as he romped into the final, only to lose to Marat Safin.

"That showed me how much the country supports me," Hewitt says.

Now, more are gathering behind another precocious talent in Bernard Tomic, who will play in tomorrow's charity event but is polarising opinion just as Hewitt did.

At the last Davis Cup tie, captain Pat Rafter questioned Tomic's work ethic.

"It's hard to say how good he can be," Hewitt says. "You just don't know. He's exceptionally talented."

And what advice would he give him?

"Leave it all on the court," Hewitt smiles. "So many times, that's how I've won matches from impossible situations."

Even if it is just a tennis match.
 

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http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-...-australian-open-wildcard-20111201-1o7zn.html

Hewitt gets Australian Open wildcard

Former finalist Lleyton Hewitt has been given a wildcard into next month's Australian Open in a decision organisers say is the easiest they have had to make.

Hewitt, whose struggle with ongoing injuries this season has reduced his ranking to No.188 in the world, says he intends to make a concerted bid to resurrect his status in 2012.

Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the former World No.1 was an obvious option for the first men's wildcard selection.

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"Who better than Lleyton, who was a finalist here in 2005 (to Russian Marat Safin)," Tiley said.

"He has had a rough year with injuries but it hasn't taken away the impact that he's had on Australian tennis.

"He knows now that he has the wildcard and he can focus his preparation over the next month-and-a-half into the Australian Open to get himself as ready as he possibly can be for January.

"He can obviously put to rest now any speculation that's out there about whether or not he's going to be in the main draw."

Tiley said Hewitt had already begun preparing as he puts his rehab behind him.

"He's been practising the last couple of weeks and if you know Lleyton he'll like nothing more than to come to January and do well.

"He's very focused on getting the job done for really where he wants to be in 2012."

The Australian Open wildcard tournament begins next week with one spot in the main draw available in the men's and women's main draw.
 

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http://www.theage.com.au/sport/tennis/seven-courts-hewitt-but-court-comes-first-20111201-1o94q.html

Seven courts Hewitt but court comes first

WHILE Lleyton Hewitt is chatting with Channel Seven about reprising his commentary cameo at Melbourne Park next month, an on-court role remains the priority.

His 16th consecutive Australian Open will be his first with the aid of a wildcard, the month before the father of three turns 31.

''We're talking once again to Lleyton, but ideally, Lleyton won't be available to do commentary,'' Seven's head of sport, Saul Shtein, said yesterday. ''In an ideal world, Lleyton's just not available, because he's just too busy playing.''

Yet the painful reality is that Hewitt's season has again fallen far short of ideal, having suffered a rankings decline from 54th to 188th.
He failed to win a title for just the second time since his stunning 1998 debut in Adelaide at the age of just 16.

''We think it's very fitting to do it this early,'' tournament director Craig Tiley said at yesterday's announcement, which precedes next week's wildcard play-off. ''In this case, who better than Lleyton, who obviously was a finalist here in 2005, and has had a rough year with injuries, but that hasn't taken away the impact that he's had.''

It was, unquestionably, one of the easier wildcard decisions, according to Tiley, who said Hewitt was ''obviously happy'' that he could put to rest any speculation about whether or not he would be in the main draw.
''He has struggled a fair bit with his injuries this year, and he can put that stress behind him and focus on his preparation,'' he said.

Hewitt's manager, David Drysdale, said Hewitt had returned to the practice court after a break to heal his injured foot after the Davis Cup loss to Switzerland in September.

''He's hitting, and he's doing fitness work and looking forward to the summer,'' said Drysdale, who expects Hewitt to be ''100 per cent'' when he arrives in Perth for the Hopman Cup at the end of the month.

Only two Australian men, 41st-ranked Bernard Tomic and big improver Matt Ebden, have earned direct Open entry, although, Hewitt aside, the play-off winner and up to three other wildcard recipients will also feature in the main draw.

The women are headed by sixth seed Sam Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova and Jelena Dokic, with Casey Dellacqua favoured to win the play-off after sweeping the past six Pro Tour titles.

''She is on a hot streak right now, and we actually asked her if she wanted to take a bit of a break - she said no, she wants to come in and play the play-off, because then she'll play matches, and she's playing very good tennis,'' Tiley said.

Hewitt, meanwhile, could be on dual duty as a player and commentator, proving himself an insightful debutant last summer.

''I thought Lleyton was just wonderful,'' said Shtein. ''He was a very very good communicator, and, importantly as a commentator, he was doing something that I think should be the goal for commentators, and that's to tell us something we don't know.''
 

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http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/c...s-lleyton-hewitt/story-e6frf9if-1226214547668

'Come January 1, I'll be ready', says Lleyton Hewitt

LLEYTON Hewitt has declared he will be ready for the Australian Open in January.

Hewitt, who has been recovering from a foot injury, said he had stepped up his training.

"It would be nice to be further advanced but I'm doing everything in my power to be ready for the Open," he said at last night's Newcombe Medal at Crown.

"Come January 1, I'll be ready."

Hewitt arrived with wife Bec who looked stunning in a black gown by La Perla.
 

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Everything he has said so far has indicated that he's still got pain in the foot. After two and a half months off, that's a bit worrying. Hopefully he will be feeling good by January.
 

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Ready to retire? Not our Lleyton

WHILE Peter Luczak will retire from tennis after a farewell Australian Open doubles appearance next month, his close friend Lleyton Hewitt remains determined to press on with his latest comeback, yet unsure how long it will last.

Admitting to an ambition to eventually succeed Pat Rafter as Davis Cup captain, Hewitt said he was no closer to deciding on his playing future. The 30-year-old had earlier paid tribute to Luczak - and revealed the popular Victorian's retirement plans - during a gracious acceptance speech for the Spirit of Tennis award at Monday's Newcombe Medal function.

Luczak, 32, and ranked 271st, is likely to contest singles qualifying at Melbourne Park next month. ''Hopefully I'll play - I'll just see how much training I'm doing and hopefully have a run in the doubles,'' said Luczak, a proficient clay-courter who played seven Davis Cup ties and three times reached the Australian Open's third round.

Hewitt, meanwhile, is due to resume at the Hopman Cup in three weeks, having been sidelined with a foot injury since his crushing loss to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the deciding fifth rubber of the Davis Cup world group play-off in September - a defeat that left Hewitt in tears for just the second time in his long career.

''This year's been frustrating, with the foot injury, and the rest of my body feels great, so that's probably even more frustrating,'' Hewitt said. ''If I was breaking down in a lot of different areas then you can sort of put up with it, but if I can get over this foot injury, I feel great at the moment. In terms of my ball-striking, it's as good as it's been in a long time.

''And for me the Davis Cup obviously hurt, losing to Switzerland, and the way that we lost, and coming awfully close, and I felt like it was a fantastic team atmosphere and environment in that tie as well, so that was more disappointing, not to get that win against those guys. I thought we put in a lot of hard work.''

Longer term, the captaincy appeals as an obvious fit for Australia's most successful Davis Cup player. ''At some stage, absolutely, I'd love to be Davis Cup captain at some stage,'' Hewitt said. ''Obviously I'd like to keep playing a bit more, and help Pat out, and Pat and Rochey [Tony Roche] are a fantastic team. If I can take over from Pat in a few years … we've never actually spoken about it, but he's probably not going to do it for a lifetime.''

Hewitt's rift with Bernard Tomic also appears to have healed, the former world No. 1 acknowledging the temperament of the only teenager in the men's top 50. ''At the moment he's definitely the standout in terms of Australian players, absolutely - one, because of how he plays and the wins he has, but I think how he handles himself on the court as well and handles the big situation and pressure,'' Hewitt said.

''There's a lot of good players out there that can hit a ball and stand at the back of the court, but when you've actually got to play guys like [Rafael] Nadal on centre court or [Roger] Federer in Davis Cup or [Novak] Djokovic at Wimbledon, that's where you see what they're made of, and he's obviously got something.
 

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Lleyton Hewitt to serve it up on Seven

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/enterta...224812830?sv=9d2f972d11ac426770cfb9578bfe7e0c

LLEYTON Hewitt has signed on officially to Channel 7 as a commentator for January's Australian Open.

He will join international commentators Jim Courier and Henri Leconte, who have again signed to be part of Seven's coverage.

Australian tennis identities Todd Woodbridge, Rennae Stubbs and Nicole Bradtke have also signed on.

Bruce McAvaney, Johanna Griggs, Matt White and Hamish McLachlan will anchor Seven's tennis coverage.

For Hewitt, it could be the start of a long career in the commentary box, if he wants it.
 

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Good that the public get to see the other side of Lleyton again, I know a lot of people warmed to him this year.
 

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Lleyton Hewitt's hunger remains

LLEYTON Hewitt has given the strongest hint yet that he has no immediate plans to retire.

Ranked 186th in the world after another injury-ravaged season, Hewitt has indicated he wants to compete beyond next year.

The former world No.1 has told Hopman Cup organisers he wants to contest the Perth round-robin event in 2013 at the event's new stadium.

"I enjoy playing at the Burswood and staying here is great for the players," he said. "The chance to play in any new stadium is exciting and I certainly hope I can be back again next year (2013)."

Hewitt, who turns 31 in February, had only nine wins from 20 matches in a season blighted by foot problems.

"Frustrating is probably a bit of an understatement," he said. "It is very tough to have the desire and focus but have an injury prevent you from doing your best."

Hewitt admitted he was not fully fit, and may never be so again, because of his left foot injury, but he hoped the problem could improve.

"If not fully 100 per cent, then I expect to be pretty close. Either way most people know I will always give 100 per cent on court," he said.

Hewitt said he intended competing indefinitely unless injury forced his hand.

"I am excited about this year because I am hungry and motivated and hope the injury problems I have had will be left behind and I can play at the level I know I can," he said.

"If I play my best tennis, then the results will take care of themselves, so my best is what I hope to achieve.

"I can't wait to get back out on court and compete, and playing for your country in Hopman Cup raises the bar of intensity as well."

Hewitt will partner Jarmila Gajdosova at the Hopman Cup, where he will play Spain's Fernando Verdasco (January 1) and France's Richard Gasquet (January 3).

"Yes, they will be tough matches, as they are quality players," he said. "But that is the advantage of playing this event: you get tough guaranteed matches and it is a great way to start the year."

FITNESS conditioner Scott Byrnes has ended his partnership with Ana Ivanovic.

Byrnes, who was in Ivanovic's corner during her climb to the No.1 ranking and 2008 French Open title, has reportedly again cut ties with the world No.22. She re-hired Byrnes five months ago.
 

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Hewitt ready to play through pain barrier

He’s been lauded as the toughest competitor in tennis and now Lleyton Hewitt is ready to fight through the pain barrier once more at next month’s Australian Open.

Hewitt has assured his close-knit team he is “100 per cent” certain to line up for a 16th consecutive tilt at Melbourne Park glory despite ongoing concerns over his chronic foot injury.

A specialist last week told Hewitt his battered left big toe was the “worst he’d ever seen” and expressed surprise the former world No.1 was walking around, let alone preparing for a grand slam tournament.

Hewitt, though, considers the grim medical assessment a badge of honour and will soldier on without even using pain killers as they upset his stomach.

The 30-year-old’s show of grit is no surprise to his vastly experienced coach Tony Roche.

“Look, he’d be the toughest competitor that I’ve seen,” Roche told AAP earlier this year.

“He’s had a lot of setbacks the last couple of years but he keeps bouncing back.”

Hewitt hasn’t played since Australia’s Davis Cup loss to Switzerland in Sydney in September.

But he has proven time and again he can return at a high level after long breaks from the game.

Last year, Hewitt was sidelined for almost four months following a second round of hip surgery and a knee operation before he toppled Roger Federer on grass in the Halle final.

He reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 US Open despite carrying a knee injury that had threatened his participation and famously beat Rafael Nadal in five sets at the 2005 Australian Open while battling a hip injury.

Despite languishing at 186th in the rankings, father-of-three Hewitt insists retirement is not in his plans.

“This year’s been frustrating with the foot injury,” Hewitt said this month.

“The rest of my body feels great, so that’s probably even more frustrating. If I was breaking down in a lot of different areas, then you can sort of put up with it.

“So if I can get over this foot injury, I feel great at the moment in terms of my ball striking. It’s as good as it’s been in a long time.

“As long as my foot holds up, I’ll keep going.”

Hewitt will launch his 2012 campaign at the Hopman Cup in Perth starting on Saturday before contesting both the Sydney International and Australian Open as a wildcard entrant.
 

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29th December 2011

Transcript – Lleyton Hewitt


Lleyton – seventh time, Hopman Cup, what keeps you coming back?

I think its good preparation. For me especially this year and the last couple of years when I haven’t played the most matches, to come back and be guaranteed three tough matches in my group again this year. You know the first two matches are going to be extremely tough for me, but it’s good to test out and preparation obviously for the Australian Open only a couple of weeks away.

Who do you rate your toughest opponents in your group this year?

Well obviously Verdasco and Gasquet are on paper the two toughest, but Wu from China is no easy beat either. He’s very good indoors and actually beat Matosevic in our Davis Cup match in singles in five sets earlier this year - so at least I’ve seen him play a little bit.

You seemed to move pretty well out there, how’s the toe going?

Yeah not bad - just battling through it. Doing all the right things and hopefully I can get out there and play as pain free as possible, you know go out there and hopefully do the job.

Are you feeling any pain at the moment?

A little bit here and there, but it’s been a while since I’ve been injury-free and pain-free now, so it’s a matter of just being mentally tough out there and not worrying about it and going out there and getting as close to 100% as possible.

Is there any doubt that Lleyton that you may not play?

No, no.

That was a fairly heavy work out, does that give you confidence that it’s all good?

I’ve been training pretty hard the last few weeks, obviously back at home in Sydney with Rochey, he’s been putting me through my paces – those sessions are never easy. So I’ve been doing a lot of off court work as well, a lot of foot work drills. I’ve been trying to get the agility more than anything, I haven’t really played that much since I had foot surgery at the end of February, start of March earlier this year, so it’s more about trying to get my movement sort of second nature again out there and that reaction time back to how it usually is. It’s a matter of doing the long hours on the practise court and on the fitness gym to try and make it second nature as much as possible.

We’ve heard people say that they’re amazed that you’re out there even and going that hard - is that just the way you are or is that your body? How fit are you do you think?

Oh I don’t know everyone has niggles. I’m not sure if other play with what I’ve got - I wouldn’t have a clue. My motivation is there, I’m pumped up to play the Australian Summer again, and I’ve done everything in my power to get us close to 100% as possible. There’s no stone unturned for me and that’s what I pride myself on doing - being as professional as possible and hopefully that rubs off on some of the younger Australian guys. Especially around the Davis Cup team and with Patty Rafter as captain and now and Rochey as the coach – I think it’s a good team mix and hopefully some of the senior stuff can rub off on the younger guys.

Fitness wise what have you been doing over the past few months?

A little bit of running, a little swimming, a lot of bike obviously, but a lot of agility stuff just to try and get confidence back in the movement more than anything. As I said just so it becomes second nature. Normally when you go on the court and you’ve been playing a lot of matches it’s not something you think about. So for me it’s more been trying to do that so I don’t rely on or think about how my foot is or movement out there or pushing off from the sides, or stuff like that.

And what was the feedback from the surgeons? Did they say this is something that is likely to flare up again?

Who knows? No-one knows.

Taking Looch around with you as a hitting partner now, how does he help you?

Well he’s my second coach, so I’m nearly like a football team now. I have a head coach, assistant coach – this is great. It’s a lot easier that way. Looch has been fantastic; he’s a great guy to have in my corner, he’s helped me out a lot in Davis Cup matches. He’s what playing for Green and Gold is all about. The small stuff behind the scenes that goes in to obviously helping myself or Bernard Tomic or Guccione and these guys go out and play. For me it’s going to be great to obviously have Looch in my corner this year. I don’t know if he’s going to play the Australian Open or not, but he’s a great hitting partner and still one of the best ball strikers out there and he works extremely hard.

If you two get on the court at the Aussie Open for doubles, as is rumoured, what will that mean to you to help say a farewell alongside your mate?

Yeah we’ll wait and see. We’ll see how my body is going first I’ve got to try and get on the singles court, but yeah if we did play doubles it would be nice. We played doubles, got a wild card at Wimbledon which was fantastic to play in the main draw there for him. For him if he can play one more Australian Open doubles alongside myself it would be a lot of fun.

We’re used to seeing you team up with Alicia Molik, now Jarmila Gajdosova a new partner, how do you feel about her and how do you think she’ll go?

Yeah not a lot, I haven’t spent a lot of time around her. I’ve seen her play some matches though and she hits the ball extremely well. She’s a great ball striker; she moves well, she’s strong out there. She’s got to hit a lot of winners but she’s got to cut out her unforced errors I think a little bit as well and that’s probably the main part of her game - to take that next step from 32, 35 in the world to getting into the top 20, top 15 in the world. But she’s dangerous, I wouldn’t write her off against anyone and I’m looking forward to playing the mixed doubles with her.

Have you had the opportunity to set some goals heading into the Aus summer?

No, nothing.

You’re just going to go out there and play and take it as it comes?

Yeah basically. I’m a wild card so there are no expectations on me.

You’ve counted up 6 years here, what have you learnt from the team environment and representing Australia and that side of things?

Well obviously Davis Cup pressure wise, you don’t get any bigger than that, so I thrive on playing in those situations and every time I come to Perth I’m fortunate the crowd has been fantastic in the support that the Australian team always gets. It’s a lot of fun going out there and playing and it would have been nice to have won it at some stage – we’re outsiders this year but we’ll see what happens.

Can you do it?

Oh we’ve got an outside chance. If Gjada goes out there and plays the way that she can then there’s no reason why she can’t win most of her matches in our group, and if I can win the odd match then that would be nice.

Just looking ahead to the Australia Open, you’re a pretty good judge on how who’s going to go well. Who do you think will win on both sides of the draw?

Well I only care about the men so I’ll only give you that one. Djokovic is obviously the form guy, you know I think he would have had plenty of time to get over his shoulder niggles that he was having at the end of this year. He’s played extremely well on the Australian hard courts. He played well here in Perth last year. He’ll be the guy to beat. Roger has obviously stepped up to the mark again – he should have knocked off Novak in the semi’s of the US Open and hasn’t lost a match since, so he’s obviously played extremely well in Australia as well. You can never count Raffa out, so they’re obviously the main three. It’s the usual four at the moment with Andy Murray sort of just behind them. There’s dangerous floaters out there as well and some of the young guys coming up, so we’ll just wait and see.

And just on your time off the court does a period like that really fuel your hunger to get out there and enjoy it as much as possible?

Yeah it depends; you sort of see where your motivation is at. I guess when you’re not playing and you’re seeing other guys out there competing and playing it really depends how much you want to go out there and still be a part of it. I’ve obviously got a beautiful wife and three kids now as well to look after, but the motivation is still there for me to go out there and compete otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.

Is that’s what is driving you now, considering your pushing through an injury and pain?

I’m probably more motivated now than even a couple of years ago really. Sometimes you just go through the motions a little bit I think, and you take everything for granted. Right at the moment, this situation, and the rest of my body feels unbelievable. It’s just been this sort of niggling foot injury and if I can get over that then I’ll 100% totally and fully committed to doing all the right things. Hopefully that’s just around the corner.

There have been those retirement talks. Do you feel you can go around again and what challenges does this year pose for you?

Retirement talks have been around since I was 26, because I was a ten year veteran by then, so for me it’s just a load of rubbish. I go out there and do my job and I’m fortunate that I’m in a sport that I can choose when I want to stop when the time is right.

So Lleyton you have never had a set time or never thought about a particular age at all when you want to retire?

No.

This is the last Hopman Cup in the Dome – how great would it be for the Aussies to take it out?

Yeah it would be nice. Once again though, you people in Perth have been saying that for seven or eight years now, I keep coming back and it’s still here. So I’m not holding my breath that we’ll be playing anywhere different next year.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Fitness test for Lleyton Hewitt in Hopman Cup

AGEING Australian warhorse Lleyton Hewitt will face the sternest test of his fitness in months as he opens his summer campaign against world No.24 Fernando Verdasco.

Hewitt will meet Verdasco in Australia's opening tie of Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV at the Burswood Dome, with the match to follow the opening rubber between Jarmila Gajdosova and world top 30 Anabel Medina Garrigues.

The Spaniard's athleticism will provide Hewitt with a solid guide as to where his fitness is at, with the 30-year-old having not played a match since September, when Australia faltered against Switzerland in the Davis Cup.

A chronic foot injury flared up following surgery earlier in the year, and a battered big toe sidelined him.

Hewitt welcomed the testing matches ahead of him, with Australia's other Group B opponents of France and China pitting him against world No. 19 Richard Gasquet and Davis Cup player Wu

"To be guaranteed three tough matches in my group again this year, the first three matches are going to be exceptionally tough for me, it's good to test myself out for the Australian Open," said Hewitt, returning to Perth for the seventh time.

"Obviously Verdasco and Gasquet are, on paper, the two toughest, but Wu from China is no easybeat either, he's very good indoors and he actually beat Matosevic in our Davis Cup match in five sets earlier this year."

Gajdosova will also face a telling test in her match against Medina Garrigues.

"The teams are very strong, so it's going to be good preparation and then I get to defend my title in Hobart, which is very exciting," Gajdosova said.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Jarmila Gajdosova

"I am looking forward to playing the Hopman Cup with Lleyton, it should be a lot of fun," Gajdosova said.

"I have never played with him. I am very excited about it. He's very experienced. I have a lot to learn from him I hope I can help him a little.

"I am excited ... I think I couldn't ask for a better start or a better partner to start my New Year hopefully, fingers crossed for a good one."

Still, during the midst of the emotional turmoil last year, she admits she could have thrown it all in. But it was the game that took her mind away from the pain.
 
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