Fully fit Hewitt optimistic at French Open
Wimbledon remains the ultimate goal for Lleyton Hewitt but the Australian veteran is confident he won't simply be making up the numbers at Roland Garros.
Wimbledon remains the ultimate goal for Lleyton Hewitt but the Australian veteran is confident he won’t simply be making up the numbers at the French Open.
Hewitt begins his 14th Roland Garros campaign on Monday or Tuesday and, for the first time in several years, has arrived in Paris fully fit and feeling capable of making his presence felt in the men’s draw.
“The last few years I’ve come in really underdone and a couple of times it’s been basically my first tournament back post (toe) surgery,” Hewitt said.
“I haven’t really given myself a chance of getting through too many matches and it was more about getting miles in my legs for the grass court season.”
The 33-year-old says this year feels different.
“The body’s feeling good and I’ve been able to hit a lot on clay without wearing myself out,” Hewitt said.
“Obviously the bigger picture is the grass for me but I’m still enjoying (Roland Garros) and hopefully I can go out there and cause a few upsets.”
Hewitt, equal third on the list of French Open appearances among active players, last won a singles match at Roland Garros in 2010.
His best performances at the slam played on his least-favoured surface are quarterfinal appearances in 2001 and 2004 but it’s often taken great claycourters to see him off.
He was eliminated by the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, four times between 2006 and 2010.
“Early on in my career it felt like I lost to the eventual winner nearly every time I played here,” Hewitt said.
“I’ve missed a few (French Opens) through injury over the years but for the most part I’ve turned up and performed pretty well.”
Hewitt, ranked 44th, has been dealt a tough first-up assignment in Argentine Carlos Berlocq.
The world No.48 beat Tomas Berdych in the final of a claycourt ATP event in Portugal last month.
“I’ve never played against him but he’s a tough player, especially on this surface,” Hewitt said.
A win could set up an intriguing all-Australian second round clash should Bernard Tomic pull off a big upset against French 12th seed Richard Gasquet.
Hewitt and Tomic have never played each other on tour but the veteran says he’s not entertaining the idea at this stage.
“I’m blocking that out so whatever happens, happens,” Hewitt said.
“I’d love to see Bernie get up obviously but he’s going to have a tough one.”
With Hewitt not defending any ranking points in Paris, some wins would likely help push him closer to the top 32 and possibly put him in the frame for a seeding at Wimbledon next month.