London, England, 1 August 2012 | Tennis Australia

Sam Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt have given Australia another shot at an Olympic medal after teaming up for the mixed doubles event at London 2012.

The illustrious pairing – who have collectively won three Grand Slam singles titles and three major doubles crowns – were awarded a special ITF place in the draw.

Mixed doubles was not originally on the agenda for Hewitt, who indicated at the Australian Open in January that his goal was to play singles and the doubles event with Chris Guccione.

But after being denied an ITF place into the men’s doubles draw, and with Stosur’s earlier-than-expected loss in the women’s singles, the partnership provides Australia with renewed hope of a medal which just days ago looked to be highly improbable.

Hewitt remains alive in the men’s singles, but faces a third round battle with No.2 seed Novak Djokovic should he defeat Croatian 13th seed Marin Cilic in the round of 32.

Stosur and Hewitt have played together once before, at the Hopman Cup in 2010. There, they lost all three of their mixed doubles rubbers, two in final set tiebreaks.

Yet the Hopman Cup is an exhibition event, and Stosur and Hewitt have both shown that when representing their countries in Fed and Davis Cup play, they are formidable competitors.

The Aussies open against Polish fourth seeds Agnieszka Radwanska and Marcin Matkowski.

The mixed doubles has attracted several star pairings in addition to Stosur and Hewitt, including top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi (Belarus), Laura Robson and Andy Murray (Great Britain), Gisela Dulko and Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) and Ana Ivanovic and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia).