Lleyton Hewitt believes he can again crack the world's top 10 and is counting on a "fresh approach" to finally deliver an elusive Australian Open crown in January. Hewitt will join the eight-man field, led by Czech world No.5 Tomas Berdych, at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne for the first time in his 15-year professional career as he…
Kooyong, 6 December 2010 | AAP
Lleyton Hewitt believes he can again crack the world’s top 10 and is counting on a “fresh approach” to finally deliver an elusive Australian Open crown in January.
Hewitt will join the eight-man field, led by Czech world No.5 Tomas Berdych, at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne for the first time in his 15-year professional career as he prepares for the grand slam.
Austrian world No.11 Jurgen Melzer and No.22 Russian Nikolay Davydenko were announced on Monday as the final two entries.
“For me it’s all about scheduling and what I believe to be the best preparation to win a grand slam for me,” Hewitt said.
“It’s also about trying something different.”
The former world No.1 slipped to 54th on the back of an injury-ravaged 2010, the last a hand injury which sidelined him in September.
Hewitt said the format of Kooyong and then the Hopman Cup in Perth, which he will play alongside Alicia Molik, ensured some much-needed match practice.
“Obviously not playing matches toward the end of this year, at least playing the Hopman Cup and coming here to Kooyong, I’m definitely guaranteed at least three matches in both events, if not four.
“That gives me great preparation, I feel, for the Australian Open.
“I spoke to Rochey (coach Tony Roche) and we came up with the idea of a fresh start after the injuries and the longer lay-off, it could be the right preparation for me.”
The father of three will turn 30 in February but says he has no plans to retire any time soon.
He declared that win or lose, the 2011 Australian Open wouldn’t be his last.
“This won’t be my last but I don’t have a number,” said the former US Open and Wimbledon champion.
“The injuries I’ve had and the small set-backs with those, it probably goes through your mind a little bit more because you never know what’s absolutely around the corner.
“But the fortunate thing about tennis is that I can retire on my terms.
“But I still feel when I play my best tennis … I’m able to compete against the best guys.”
Hewitt said his June tournament win at Halle over Roger Federer, which snapped a 15-match losing streak against the Swiss, was “huge” and proved he still had what it took.
“If I play a full year I’d like to finish in the Masters Cup,” said Hewitt when asked of his 2011 ambitions.
“That would be a realistic goal but it’s not something I’m focused on, ranking points, and I won’t go chasing small tournaments to get in there.
“But if I do what I think I’m capable of in the bigger tournaments and especially the grand slams than I think it’s a realistic goal.”
Another big part of Hewitt’s new start is the re-appointment of his former coach Roche, who also coached former world No.1 Federer.
Hewitt said they were focused on fitness, as well as his service game.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches out there so I’m extremely privileged to have him in my corner.