Hewitt-Gonzalez to provide first round spark in Australian Open

January 17th, 2009 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalMelbourne, Jan 17 (IANS) Lleyton Hewitt and Fernando Gonzalez could not believe their luck as they were drawn in the toughest first round encounter at the Australian Open beginning Monday.If Australian Hewitt manages to escape the first round heat against Chilean Gonzalez, he faces possible encounters against danger men Guillermo Canas or Nicolas Kiefer in the second round, Richard Gasquet in the third and World No 1 Rafael Nadal in the round of 16.

The Chilean, a crowd favourite in Australia given his generous nature and brilliant run to the Open final two years ago, could scarcely believe he had the misfortune of drawing the tournament’s most dangerous unseeded player as his opening round opponent.

“I mean, it’s a tough match, it’s going to be one of the toughest first-rounders of all the tournament, but I am ready for that,” Gonzalez was quoted as saying in The Australian.

“I know that Lleyton is coming back and he is going to have the crowd with him. Normally you like to start from maybe not that tough round, but he gives a lot of rhythm and you have to be ready for the long fight.

“He is a really good player, a great competitor, but I believe in my chances, and I think that at least the crowd is going to watch good tennis.”

Hewitt’s opening-round opponent was always going to be of interest given his rankings slide to No. 74 following an extended stint on the sidelines.

Gonzalez, too, is on a comeback of sorts after taking an extended break following his leading role in Chile’s Davis Cup win over Australia in September, a victory that lifted the South Americans into the World Group.

Hewitt trails Gonzalez 3-2 in head-to-head matches.

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