Australian Open 2012: Hewitt and Roddick set for nostalgic match-up
Lleyton Hewitt looks to emulate Bernard Tomic and seal his place in the third round but he must beat Andy Roddick on Thursday
Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt will look to join his teenage compatriot Bernard Tomic in third round of the Australian Open but the two-time Major champion faces stiff competition from old foe Andy Roddick.
Tomic restored Australia’s pride with a thrilling victory over Sam Querrey 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 on Wednesday after Sam Stosur made a meek exit to world No59 Sorana Cirstea at the first hurdle.
And Aussie eyes will now turn to Hewitt, who still harbours hopes of securing the title which has eluded the Adelaide-born 30-year-old in his 14-year career.
Hewitt almost reached the promised land in 2005 but was cruelly denied the crown he so craves by a magnificent performance from Marat Safin, losing 1″“6 6″“3 6″“4 6″“4 in the final.
The career of the two-time Grand Slam champion has spiralled downwards since, mainly due to the emergence of the ‘power four’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
However, it is an old adversary in the shape of Roddick that Hewitt will face on Thursday as both former world No1s compete for a place in the third-round in Melbourne and a tie against 23rd seed Milos Raonic or the unseeded Philipp Petzschner.
It will be the pick of Thursday’s matches as the year’s first Major throws up a nostalgic tie. The last time the pair met was at an ATP World Tour 500 event in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hewitt had breezed through the opening two rounds and looked set to comfortably beat his American rival in their quarter-final match-up as he comfortably took the first set – but Roddick responded to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Weeks later, Hewitt underwent an operation on his left foot which resulted in a three-month lay off, causing his world ranking to plummet.
The 2002 Wimbledon champion made a brief return but niggling ankle and foot injuries prompted Hewitt to miss the US Open and his 2011 season came to a premature end.
Any doubts surrounding Hewitt’s fitness were banished on Tuesday. His much-renowned fighting qualities came to the fore as he persevered through a marathon first round, lasting three hours and 58 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, to beat German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-4 3-6 7-5.
Roddick will approach the tie confident of victory on the back of six successive wins against Hewitt – the world No16 leads the head-to-head tally 7-6.
But their last four encounters have gone the distance and Roddick is wary of Hewitt’s tenacity, with the local favourite also set to benefit from raucous Australian support.
“We always have a bit of a war,” the American said. “I probably don’t see it being any different.”
“I have as much respect for him as I do for anybody in the game, how he goes about his business, how professional he is. He’s a fighter.”
Meanwhile, Hewitt was equally complimentary about his American opponent, adding that the 29-year-old has a complete game.
“He’s an all-court player,” Hewitt countered. “He’s probably added to his net game a little bit more since the first time I played him, whatever it was, when he was 19, 20, whatever it was. He’s a complete player.”