Lleyton Hewitt’s drought-breaking Brisbane International title has taken a physical toll, causing him to pull out of this week’s Kooyong Classic in Melbourne.
In-form Lleyton Hewitt has pulled out of this week’s Kooyong Classic to preserve his ageing body for another Australian Open tilt.
The 32-year-old claimed a drought-breaking title on Sunday, when he upset Roger Federer in the final of the Brisbane International, his first ATP tournament win since 2010.
That triumph lifted Hewitt above Bernard Tomic to reclaim his status as Australia’s top-ranked player.
But while it also rekindled memories of the former world No.1’s glory days, his body doesn’t recover like it once did.
Hewitt said while he wasn’t injured, four matches in four days in Brisbane heat had drained him to the extent that competing again this week could compromise his Open performance.
“At the moment it’s just all about recovery for me,” Hewitt told reporters at Kooyong on Tuesday.
“When you get older it gets a bit tougher than when you were 16.
“Saturday and Sunday, (there were) brutal conditions up in Brisbane, very little breeze whatsoever, very hot and humid in Pat Rafter Arena.
“We’re going into the first major and you’ve got to do what’s absolutely right for you.”
Hewitt’s only match this week will be an exhibition clash with Andy Murray at Kooyong on Friday night.
The world No.43 said overtaking Tomic (No.52) as the top-ranked Australian meant nothing to him.
But his desire to win his home grand slam title is as strong as ever.
“It’s been a dream since I was eight, nine years old,” Hewitt said.
“For me to still be out there competing, this is my 18th Australian Open in a row, so I’m thrilled just to be out there.”
Unseeded, he was unwilling to speculate on his chances of winning the event.
Hewitt said it would be nice to lift his ranking inside the top 32 to ensure seeding for future majors.
But with his focus firmly on grand slams and Davis Cup, he won’t be playing more tournaments just to chase rankings points.
While Hewitt’s withdrawal is a huge blow for the Kooyong exhibition event, the field is still strong, with the other seven players all ranked inside the world top 30, led by Czech No.7 Tomas Berdych.
Australian 19-year-old Jordan Thompson, the world No.321, replaces Hewitt to make up the eight-man field, ahead of his maiden Australian Open campaign.
World No.2 Novak Djokovic isn’t part of the field, but will play an exhibition match against Argentine Juan Monaco on Thursday night.