Hewitt Starts Summer Against Teen Star

Picture: Daniel Wilkins/Herald Sun
Lleyton Hewitt is 32-6 lifetime against fellow Australians. Image courtesy of Herald Sun/Daniel Wilkins
Back in 1998, then 16-year-old Lleyton Hewitt
announced his arrival on the world tennis stage with a barely comprehensible win in his home town Adelaide event with wins over the likes of Andre Agassi, Mark Woodforde and then Jason Stoltenberg in the final. The Brisbane International has replaced the Memorial Drive event, but a decade-and-a-half later, another boom teenager has the chance to make his mark on the ATP Tour in the form of Thanasi Kokkinakis . Up the other end, as he has for the past 16 summers, is Hewitt, still hungry for success after an encouraging finish to 2013.

Kokkinakis scored some impressive wins in qualifying at Tennyson beating the likes of Andrey Golubev and Di Wu to claim his place in the main draw. The 17-year-old first came to the attention of Australian tennis fans at the Hopman Cup at the start of this year when he stretched Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-3 after he was an injury-replacement for American John Isner late in the event. He made the final of the Australian Open boys’ singles, going down to the country’s other great teenage hope, Nick Kyrgios in a hard-fought final. He also lost the US Open boys’ decider to talented young Croat Borna Coric.

Hewitt struggled in Brisbane last year going the distance against lowly-ranked Russian Igor Kunitsyn before big-serving Denis Istomin knocked him out in straight sets in the second round. He won the Kooyong exhibition tournament but was bundled out in the first round of the Australian Open by Janko Tipsarevic. He was outstanding at the US Open beating Juan Martin del Potro en route to a fourth round defeat in five sets to Mikhail Youzhny. He also toppled Tommy Haas in Beijing but ended the season in disappointing fashion with three straight sets defeats to Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi and Vasek Pospisil. He has a 32-6 record against his fellow Australians and hasn’t lost to a countryman since the lefty with the booming service, Chris Guccione, had his measure in Sydney in 2008. 

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