After lifting the title for the first time in his career last season with a victory over 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt has returned to the Brisbane International to defend his title and start his 2015 season on the right track. The Australian will begin his year with a match-up against fellow countryman Sam Groth, a youngster with a notable upside to his game.
The two-time Grand Slam champion and 30 title winner will commence yet another year on the professional tour – one that will be filled with challenges, including younger competitors from his own nation. Apart from Groth, Hewitt will have to maintain his spot against Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, both of whom are hungry and ambitious players. After lifting his first title on Australian soil since 2005 here last season, Hewitt is focused on retaining that crown before looking ahead.
“It’s great to be back,” said Hewitt,. “I like playing all the tournaments in Australia and [I’m] obviously coming back from such good memories here last year.
“In my off season I always work pretty hard so I feel comfortable and I’m happy with how the body is feeling at the moment,” said Hewitt. “I’ve just got to go out there and play my game and hopefully execute. I’ve been training really hard and doing all the right things.”
World No. 81 Sam Groth has drawn Hewitt in his first professional match of the year. A win would be a significant upset over the defending champion, while a loss would simply be expected at this point in time. However, Groth does believe he is a considerable foe across the net.
“I definitely think the guys see me as a dangerous player – especially early in tournaments and early in the year. I don’t know too many guys [who] want to see me throwing rockets down at them and getting into the net and lot letting them find much rhythm.”
This marks the first time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour. Based on Hewitt’s resume and his past performances at this event, he should remain the favourite to win this contest and advance to the next round.
Prediction: Lleyton Hewitt in Straight Sets