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Monday, June 29, 2009

Hewitt looks ahead to Stepanek

Photo Titled Hewitt on a high
Hewitt on a high

Lleyton Hewitt has been in the round of 16 at Wimbledon before. He has been here every year since 2002, with the exception of 2003 when he lost in the first round. He will play Radek Stepanek, who he beat at the Australian and US Open in 2003.

"He mixes in the serve volley, chip charge. He comes in. He's a good all court player," Hewitt said. "He's dangerous from the back of the court as well. Sort of flashy from the back of the court, similar to Petzschner a little bit: an all court player, moves extremely well. He's very comfortable on this surface, as well."

Stepanek twisted his knee in his third round match against David Ferrer, although he as fit enough to sustain five sets and he hopes to be fit enough for his second appearance in the fourth round.

"If you're not 100% fit, then he's gonna make you run like a horse. So I rather try to do everything possible to be 100% ready for the match," the Czech says.

"I think Lleyton is playing great tennis right now, especially here in Wimbledon. He won it here, so definitely he's got his best experiences. It's gonna be a tough match. He's a great returner. He's passing great. So it will be an exciting match."

Hewitt knows a thing or two about playing with pain. A hip injury forced him to undergo surgery last year and a painful period of rehabilitation that cost him his place among the game's elite.

“I guess when you're at the top of your game and you're number one in the world, you kind of take it for granted, Round of 16s of Slams. 2002, I only lost two sets for the entire tournament, and they were both to Schalken in the quarter-finals. Apart from that, I didn't drop a set, so obviously I played pretty clean tennis that year.

“It's important to play clean tennis to obviously save energy. At the end of the day, you've got to just find a way to get through the first week, as well. You can't win these tournaments in the first week, but you can obviously be knocked out."

Hewitt reached the fourth round with a convincing win over Philipp Petzschner. He has not dropped a set but this time he is the world No.56 and is less than a year back from hip surgery.

“When you're unseeded, it's not always that easy to get the easy draw to come through the Round of 16 and make the second week of these kind of majors. That's what's pleasing this week, is to come through and do it against worthy opponents.

“When I look at the guys in the top five, top 10 in the world, I still feel like I'm good enough to be up there. I think that's probably the motivation.”

“Growing up, these are the places you want to play at. I've been fortunate enough to play well at a lot of these big tournaments. The passion and hunger's still there obviously. The day that that's not there, it is time to hang up the rackets.”

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