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The Australian Open in January is the first Grand Slam of the tennis season and in 2012 the organisers have given an opportunity to one of the greatest Aussies tennis stars of all-time.

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt is one of the greatest stars of the modern generation and an Australian tennis legend, but he has struggled with persistent injuries in recent years and that means he has dropped to 188th in the world rankings.

With the Australian Open starting at Melbourne Park on January 16th at least the home fans will be able to cheer on their hero, as Hewitt has been awarded a wildcard to compete in the opening Grand Slam of 2012. People who bet on tennis should bear this in mind.

The 30-year-old is a previous Wimbledon and US Open champion, while he also reached the Australian Open final in 2005, but lost to Marat Safin despite taking the first set.

It would take one of the biggest shocks of all time for Hewitt to wind back the clock and give the Australian fans a home winner, but he could be a dangerous opponent for anyone in the draw and will certainly benefit from a passionate home support.

Craig Tiley, tournament director of the Australian Open, said the organisers "look forward" to seeing the star compete at Melbourne Park come January and reiterated Hewitt can "never be discounted" against even the top stars of world tennis. The Australian Open betting reflects this.

"Lleyton is a former world number one, twice a grand slam champion and Australia's most successful Davis Cup player," Tiley said.

"He reached the Australian Open final in 2005 and his passion and commitment to the game is second to none. We are delighted to offer him a wild card for 2012."

While home fans will cheer on Hewitt, all the international eyes will be on the big four of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray as they controlled the Grand Slam tournaments of 2011.

Come the Australian Open those four are likely to dominate the competition and Federer and Murray are looking the two outstanding candidates to win the opening Grand Slam of 2012, given how they finished 2011 and the fact they missed out on top glory this season.
 
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