Sat, Jan 01, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Feisty Hewitt up for challenge ahead of Hopman opener

AFP, PERTH, AUSTRALIA

Lleyton Hewitt of Australia reacts during his match against Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium in their Davis Cup world group playoff on Sept. 11 in Cairns, Australia.

PHOTO: AFP

Former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt hopes a rigorous off-season fitness regime will arrest an alarming slide down the rankings.

The Australian has battled injuries in recent years and heads into the New Year ranked a lowly 54th in the world, having started last year at 22.

But the 29-year-old said he was in his best shape since 2005.

Speaking yesterday as he prepared to partner Alicia Molik in the mixed teams Hopman Cup in the run-up to this month’s Australian Open, Hewitt said he had enjoyed a rare incident-free off-season and had worked hard.

“Yeah it’s been good, I’ve had no interruptions this year,” he said. “When you’re training extremely hard, sometimes you get little niggles throughout and you’ve got to have a couple of days off here and there.”

“This year there’s been none of that. I’ve been at least six days a week, sometimes seven days a week, going as hard as I can,” Hewitt said.

“Personally I don’t feel there’s probably anybody else out there who has trained as hard as I have for the last two months,” he said. “Where my body’s at for a 29-year-old, I feel pretty good.”

A typically feisty Hewitt, who enjoyed a rare win over Roger Federer last year but also suffered from hip, hand and knee problems, said he would keep his training regime under wraps.

“I’m not going to let everybody know what I’ve been doing,” he said. “There’s a few different things I’ve been doing out there, I’ve mixed it up a lot.”

“The last week and a half I’ve been able to taper off and do a lot more quick, reaction stuff,” he added. “It isn’t quite as grinding on your body physically and mentally but believe me, the first five or six weeks were bloody tough.”

Hewitt said there was a simple reason for his continued dedication.

“Because I still think I can get better,” he said when asked about his motivation. “As long as the motivation’s there and I want to go out there and compete and become a better player then I’ll do it.”

Hewitt and Molik play the Belgian pairing of Ruben Bemelmans and Justine Henin in the Hopman Cup tournament opener today.

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