Lleyton Hewitt, who won his first senior title at the Australian men's hardcourt championships at the age of 18, is back for another attempt at the title after not playing at Memorial Drive for three years.
Hewitt, who has represented Australia in the Hopman Cup at Perth during that time, says he is in strong form ahead of his hometown tournament that begins today. It's one of nine tournaments in Australia over the next two weeks leading into the Australian Open beginning Jan. 17.
"I always wanted to come back and play here," Hewitt, 23, said yesterday. "It's obviously where it all started for me.
"I had given the Hopman Cup a run the last few years, and I just felt like to get a real tournament under my belt, where there's ranking points on the line and you have got to go out there and win every match to get match practice."
Sweden's Joachim Johansson and Thomas Enqvist, German Nicolas Keifer, Americans Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri and Australians Todd Reid and Wayne Arthurs are also entered at Adelaide.
Italian Flavia Pennetta upset former champion and sixth-seeded Nathalie Dechy of France 7-6 (7), 6-1 yesterday on the opening day of the Australian women's hardcourt tennis championships.
Dechy, the 2003 champion, has made at least the quarterfinals here four times. But she struggled to find her pace yesterday.
"I played against a really good opponent," Dechy said. "I think she played a really great match. I wasn't able to raise my level of play as much as I wished."
In other matches, fifth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia of Italy beat Stephanie Foretz of France 6-3, 7-5 and Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria, seeded eighth, defeated Yuliana Fedak of the Ukraine 6-4, 6-1.
Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic defeated Severine Beltrame of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 while Li Na of China beat Tathiana Garbin of Italy 6-3, 6-1.
Guillermo Coria beat David Sanguinetti of Italy 6-1, 7-6 (4) and then teamed with Gisela Dulko to defeat Italy in mixed doubles and give Argentina a 2-1 win in the tournament opener at the Burswood Dome.
Francesco Schiavone, Sanguinetti's partner, beat Dulko 6-1, 6-3 in the opening match yesterday to give Italy an early 1-0 lead. Coria, last year's losing finalist at the French Open, and Dulko beat Schiavone and Sanguinetti 7-5, 6-0 in the deciding mixed doubles.
Dulko said nerves and her lack of early season shape caused her problems in her singles match.
"I am lucky because in doubles I played much better," said Dulko.