Hewitt Tries To Back Up Brisbane Win

Picture: Daniel Wilkins/Herald Sun
Lleyton Hewitt comes in to this after winning in Brisbane. Image courtesy of Daniel Wilkins/Herald Sun

Given Bernard Tomic’s nightmare draw getting Rafael Nadal in the first round, Lleyton Hewitt carries the hopes and dreams of Aussie fans this Australian Open. The 32-year-old couldn’t have started his summer in better form than he showed at the Brisbane International where he beat Feliciano Lopez and Kei Nishikori – both seeds at Melbourne Park – on the way to the final where he overcame Roger Federer in a tight three-set match.

The Slams are what count, though, and the South Australian has the chance to extend a quirky run at his home major. Over the past six years, he has alternated between being bundled out in the first round and making it to the round of 16. If his streak continues, he’s due to reach the fourth round this year, but to do so he’ll have to overcome Italian Andreas Seppi in his opening match on Tuesday night.

It will be an encounter of, somewhat, like-minded players. Neither is going to blast the other off the court, and given the extreme heat expected to hit the Victorian capital, these two counter-punchers could be involved in a very taxing match, mentally and physically. Seppi’s campaign Down Under didn’t start well as he went down in all three rubbers at the Hopman Cup before dropping his opening match in Sydney in straight sets to Australian Marinko Matosevic, who prior to this year had a history of not winning on home soil.

These players last met late in 2013 when Seppi prevailed 6-4 6-2 in Shanghai as Hewitt lost his last three matches of season in straight sets to very beatable opponents. Overall the head-to-head is 3-3, but the Italian has won three of the four matches played on hardcourt. Seppi reached the final 16 at Melbourne Park last year beating the likes of Denis Istomin and Marin Cilic on the way to losing to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Of Hewitt’s last 11 Grand Slam matches, four have gone to five sets – including his dramatic fourth round loss to Mikhail Youzhny at Flushing Meadows last year – while another five have gone to four sets. Amazingly, Seppi has played 11 five-setters out of his last 19 matches in a major. If it does go the distance, Hewitt is 32-20 over his career while Seppi is 17-12 .

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