Lleyton Hewitt won last week's Kooyong Classic. Image courtesy of Herald Sun/Daniel Wilkins
Putting aside the fact he won what is, essentially, an exhibition tournament, there’s no denying Lleyton Hewitt comes in to the Australian Open as one of the form players in the men’s singles. The Kooyong Classic has never been a great form guide for Australian Open success, though; Andre Agassi is the only player to win at the former home of the slam, then go on to claim victory at Melbourne Park, and he did the double in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
Even so, Hewitt couldn’t have been more impressive in his 6-1 6-4 dismissal of Juan Martin del Potro in the final. That was after a straight sets win over Tomas Berdych and an opening round triumph over Canadian man mountain Milos Raonic, which went the distance. It was a good comeback from Hewitt who returned serve better in that match than he did against another big server, Denis Istomin, in his second round loss in Brisbane.
The first round in Melbourne will be a big step up in intensity, though, especially after drawing eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic . The enigmatic Serb comes in to the tournament after winning his fourth ATP title in Chennai, although he had a rails run through the event only running in to one seed along the way. Hewitt has won three of the four times he has faced Tipsarevic, but their last meeting was in Sydney in 2009. In those days Tipsarevic was talented but inconsistent, and loitered around the top 50 without being able to string together wins. These days he is a bona fide top 10 player.
The 28-year-old has never progressed beyond the third round at Melbourne Park, but he has made the quarter-finals of the past two US Opens, so he has a history of success on hardcourt in Grand Slams. He withdrew from the Kooyong Classic with a wrist injury, but will be fine for the night match-up with Hewitt. The South Australian has twice lost in the first round at the Open in the past four years, and both times it was to seeded players; in 2009 he went down to Chilean Fernando Gonzalez before falling 9-7 in the fifth against arch rival David Nalbandian in 2011.
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