Buoyed by an upset win over Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final, Lleyton Hewitt is itching to tackle the world’s best at the Australian Open.
Rejuvenated tennis star Lleyton Hewitt is out to upset the sport’s top names at this month’s Australian Open following his stunning win over former world No.1 Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final on Sunday.
Hewitt, 32, capped a fine week in Queensland with a 6-1 4-6 6-3 victory over the 17-time grand slam champion, claiming his first ATP Tour title since 2010 and continuing a remarkable comeback over the past 12 months from a chronic foot condition which required several surgeries.
After the two-time grand slam champion’s world ranking slumped to 233 in the middle of 2012, Hewitt’s win on Sunday will put him back inside the top 50 and has given him the belief he can once again cause a stir on the game’s biggest stages.
“A lot depends on draws and how I play,” Hewitt said of his Australian Open chances.
“I’m not looking at what round or whatever. I go out there and I’ll compete exactly the same as I’ve competed here this week.
“If I play like I did this week, then I have a chance of doing some damage against serious players.”
Hewitt’s win was his seventh in Australia from nine final appearances and his 29th ATP Tour title overall.
After enduring so long without even knowing if he’d be able to return to the circuit, Hewitt was clearly emotional as he received the winner’s trophy from tennis great Rod Laver.
Hewitt said he’ll head to Melbourne full of confidence in his battered body after overcoming world No.17 Kei Nishikori and Federer in consecutive days despite stifling conditions for both matches.
“The most pleasing thing is what I’ve had to come through and the tough times in terms of surgery,” he said.
“Before the last surgery I made no secret, there was no guarantees I would be able to play again at all.
“It’s not an easy tournament to win. I wasn’t one of the top four seeds, so I had to win all five matches to get through.
“Roger only had to play four to win it here. There are pleasing parts and massive positives to take out of it.”
Federer, whose error-riddled first set left many at Pat Rafter Arena scratching their heads as the Swiss great took a complete air-swing at one ball and shanked another couple of baseline shots into the crowd, was full of praise for his opponent.
“I didn’t play great today which is a bit unfortunate, but also Lleyton was the best player I played this week,” the 32-year-old said.
Despite the loss Federer said he was happy overall with his week and looking forward to returning to Melbourne Park, where he is a four-time winner.
“I have a clear idea what I need to work on, and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is at,” he said.
“I’m very hungry and eager to attack the Australian Open next week.”