Federer fears a fired-up Hewitt

Written By Unknown on Senin, 30 Desember 2013 | 23.40

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ROGER Federer once feared Lleyton Hewitt would prematurely retire with injury but now he insists the former world No.1 is the last person he wants to confront in Australia because he has the "fire in his eyes" again.

Federer knows more about Hewitt than most. The duo have clashed countless times in careers spanning back to their junior days and last met as recently as Sunday where they sweated it out over two hours on the practice court together.

The Swiss superstar could immediately sense that Hewitt was back in his sweet zone, happy on tour and striking the ball well after a troubling few years plagued by injury.

"It seems like he's really enjoying it, which is nice, because for a while there I thought he was not going to be able to stay on tour much longer with all the injuries that he had," Federer said.

"It's nice to see that he's back healthy and has the fire in his eyes, because that's what he needs to play and to beat the best.

"I hope he can win tournaments and move up in the rankings to give himself better opportunities to move forward in the draw."

Federer points to Hewitt's defeat of Juan Martin Del Potro at this year's US Open as proof he can still mix it with the best, while the Australian world No.60 actually posted a 3-1 record against top 10 opponents in 2013.

"Here in Australia he's the last guy you want to play against anyway," Federer said.

Luckily for Federer he can only meet Hewitt here in Brisbane if the pair both reach the final.

The daunting task of facing Hewitt in round one has fallen to 17-year-old South Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis after he beat China's Wu Di 6-1 6-4 in their final qualifying clash.

Kokkinakis, an Australian Open Junior finalist last January, was just seven months old when Hewitt made his Grand Slam debut at the 1997 Australian Open as a fresh-faced 15-year-old.

The old bull and young buck of Australian tennis will clash on Pat Rafter Arena tonight with the men's draw guaranteed of featuring at least three Australians into the second round as Nick Kyrgios and Matthew Ebden will also play today and Marinko Matosevic progressed yesterday.

Federer begins his campaign tomorrow night against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen who yesterday defeated young Australian wildcard James Duckworth 6-2 6-3.

It will be the first chance to see the 17-times Grand Slam winner play since sparking up a relationship with former Swedish great Stefan Edberg.

Asked whether partnering with the noted serve-volleyer indicated a more aggressive game plan in 2014, Federer said it was something he was definitely considering.

"It's going to be interesting to see what he thinks, if it's possible to play a lot of serve and volley on the slower courts we see all around the world now, or if there are different ways for me to find my way to the net," he said.

"I've tried many things. We can debate, and Severin Luthi, my coach about ways to come to the net or not. Clearly it's important to take time way from your opponent, to dictate play as well as much as you can. Also, you have to be able to not miss too much and physically stay in the rally and mentally as well.

"So it's a combination of many things now against the good players we know at the top. So it's going to interesting to see what he has to say."

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