Lleyton Hewitt has a tough first round match-up at Wimbledon. Image courtesy of yahoo.com/Paul Kane/Getty Images
It is now more than a decade since Lleyton Hewitt claimed victory at Wimbledon. Such is his ability on grass that since 2004, only once has he been defeated by a player ranked lower than 6 in the world, and even then that came in 2006 when he went down to then 16th ranked Marcos Baghdatis at the height of the Cypriot’s career.
The South Australian has a super-tough test first up in SW19 as he takes on in-form Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka . After reaching the quarters at Roland Garros, Wawrinka breezed through to the final on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands before falling in straight sets to Nicholas Mahut in the decider. It was the first time Wawrinka had made the final of a grasscourt event.
Hewitt, too, comes in to this Slam in good form having beater Grigor Dimitrov, Sam Querrey and Juan Martin Del Potro at the Queen’s Club event, before going down to Marin Cilic in three sets in the semis. The wins over Querrey and Del Potro have to be taken with a grain of salt, given their lack of consistency when changing surfaces.
Wawrinka has a poor record at Wimbledon with two appearances in the fourth round his best efforts. He has won just one match in his last three visits to the All England Club, with losses to Jurgen Melzer, Simone Bolelli and Denis Istomin; hardly players with great grasscourt pedigree.
The 11th seed won the pair’s only meeting on grass when he triumphed in five sets in a Davis Cup clash in Sydney at the end of 2011, and he was also victorious against Hewitt at Indian Wells earlier this year.
Another Australian, ever-improving journeyman Marinko Matosevic , has an easier first round assignment against Guillaume Rufin tonight. Youngster Matt Reid takes on veteran Radek Stepanek , who went down to another Aussie up-and-comer, Nick Kyrgios, at the French Open.
Tournament fancies Roger Federer and Andy Murray are both in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal, who inexplicably received the No. 5 seeding behind David Ferrer. With a quarter-final match-up against the French Open champion looming, Federer begins his campaign for an eighth Wimbledon crown against Romanian Victor Hanescu , a player he has beaten all five times they’ve met.
Scotsman Murray , as usual, carries the hopes of the United Kingdom, but he should cruise through the opening round against German Benjamin Becker . In saying that, Becker did push him at Queen’s before going down 6-4 7-6.
Samantha Stosur is the only Australian in the women’s draw. The 14th seed begins her campaign on Tuesday night against Slovakian lucky loser Anna Schmiedlova .
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