An all-Aussie battle between Lleyton Hewitt and Matthew Ebden is set to take place in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. This is the second time they meet on the professional circuit, with Hewitt leading the head-to-head series with a victory in Newport last year. The top ranked Australian will be looking to continue his fantastic season with a strong showing in the unofficial “fifth slam.”
Hewitt began his 2014 season in outstanding fashion, winning his first ATP World Tour Title since 2010 and his first in Australia since 2005, when he defeated old rival Roger Federer to lift the Brisbane trophy. The win boosted Hewitt back into the Top 50 (currently ranked at No. 41) as well as the spot of Australian No. 1, but he was sadly unable to carry forth the momentum as he would lose in the opening round in Melbourne in a five set thriller against Andreas Seppi. Since then, he reached the quarter-finals in Memphis and the second round in Delray Beach.
World No. 62 Matthew Ebden is riding a 4-match losing streak on the tour, having lost in the opening round in Memphis, Delray Beach and Acapulco, along with a second round exit at the Australian Open. He holds a 2-6 record on the tour this season and will be looking to snap that losing streak with an opening round victory against Hewitt.
Hewitt will look to continue rolling back the years this week starting with an opener against his fellow countryman, whom he holds a 6-4, 6-1 victory against in Newport last year. It was their only professional meeting and took place on grass. Considering this contest will take place on hard court, it will likely yield slighyl different results. Even so, I expect Hewitt to overcome his fellow Australian to reach the second round in Indian Wells.