Australian icon Newcombe places his bet on Hewitt comeback

December 25th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Dec 25 (DPA) Lleyton Hewitt’s intense tune-up this month with coach Tony Roche, as he plots his return to tennis five months after hip surgery, has drawn praise from senior Australian icon John Newcombe.”The last 10 days they’ve really picked it up and worked hard, and his biggest problem lately - his hip - is responding well,” Newcombe told Sydney’s Sun-Herald.

“He wants to go hard for another two years, at least, and he believes he can get back into the top 10.”

The 27-year-old, who recovered from his summer hip operation, is targeting Australian Open which starts Jan 19.

To get up to speed, the former number one and double Grand Slam champion will play for Australia at the Hopman Cup starting a week from Saturday in Perth and will then move onto Sydney for his “home” event.

Hewitt currently stands a distant 67th as Aussie tennis looks in vain for a new generation on court. He and Chris Guccione (98th) are the lone rangers in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in top-100 for the one-time tennis titans.

Hewitt last reached the top 10 in June 2006, claiming the last of his titles two springs ago in Las Vegas.

The former No. 1 is also keen on the chances of Andy Murray to continue his breakthrough in the face of stern competition from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Melbourne holder Novak Djokovic.

“Give him 12 months, and if he stays healthy, I’d be surprised if he’s not in the top 10.”

And Newcombe advises: “If Lleyton plays defensively and relies on counter-attack, he’s not going to get back in the top 10.

“(But), if he backs himself, hits backhands down the line, gets his forehand going down the line and doesn’t get stuck on hitting everything cross-court, he can do anything.”

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