Lleyton Hewitt can still push the best in the game says Roger Federer.
Swiss ace Roger Federer believes a battle-weary Lleyton Hewitt can still trouble the world’s top players, despite the Australian veteran being in his twilight years.
World No.6 Federer has been practising with two-time major winner Hewitt since his arrival in Australia on Saturday as the pair warm up for the Australian Open at this week’s Brisbane International tournament.
After two hectic days of practice and visiting koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 17-time grand slam champion Federer spoke to the media on Monday ahead of his second-round clash in Brisbane against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
He said he enjoyed practising with former world No.1 Hewitt, who still has the “fire in his eyes” despite battling a series of debilitating injuries over the past few years.
“Back in the day we didn’t practise much, even though we played the juniors together at times and doubles together at Wimbledon,” Federer said.
“But then we were such rivals I guess that we didn’t think that one or the other wanted to practise with each other. So now, at this stage of our careers, we’re really happy, getting the best out of each other for practice and helping each other.
“I always wish him the best. I hope he can win tournaments and move up in the rankings to give himself better opportunities to move forward in the draw.
“It seems like he’s really enjoying it, which is nice, because for a while there I thought he was not going to be able to stay on tour much longer with all the injuries that he had.
Asked whether world No.60 Hewitt could still claim some big scalps in 2014 and beyond, Federer points to the Australian’s stunning upset of Juan Martin Del Potro in the US Open this year as proof that he could.
“I think this (plexicushion) court really suits Lleyton,” Federer said.
“Here in Australia he’s the last guy you want to play against anyway.”
Federer said he had hired Swedish great Stefan Edberg as part of his coaching team to find a fresh source of inspiration.
“Him being the legend he is and someone I look up to so much, anything he will say will mean very much to me and my team,” the 32-year-old said. “I think we can build on that, and then see how it goes in Australia.”
Federer, who is using a new racquet in Brisbane, said he couldn’t see himself coaching but possibly he’d work in junior development when he retired.
“I see myself more helping kids and all that stuff,” he said.