Confident Hewitt opens assault tonight

MELBOURNE - Some deem it another horror grand slam draw, but luckless Lleyton Hewitt sees his first-round Australian Open showdown with Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic as a golden opportunity.

So often pitch-forked into early-round confrontations with the Federers, Nadals and Djokovics, Hewitt is relishing the chance to go deep in the tournament with none of the sport's dominators within sight this time around.

Lining up for his record 17th straight Open, Hewitt squares off with Tipsarevic at Rod Laver Arena tonight, starting at 7pm.

After claiming three successive top-15 scalps to secure his second Kooyong Classic on Saturday, unseeded Hewitt is in a fearless mood.

"I don't care. I'll knock him off, try to take his spot in the draw," Hewitt said yesterday.

"It was exactly what I wanted out of the week at Kooyong. There were a lot of positives to take out of it.

"The pleasing thing for me, I feel like I got better with every match - my sharpness and cleanness, even my moving.

"When my moving comes together and I'm serving well, my returns and obviously passing shots and counter-punching has been pretty good anyway.

"The last couple of matches I've hit the ball as well as I can remember when I hit it."

Fuelling the 31-year-old's confidence is the manner in which he dealt with world No.14 Milos Raonic, the sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych and seventh-ranked Juan Martin del Potro, the type of big-hitting tall timbers that Hewitt traditionally struggles against.

THE OPEN: Pages 36-37


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