Hewitt feels duty to perform

Sportal January 13, 2013, 6:08 pm
Lleyton Hewitt

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Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt said the focus on compatriot Bernard Tomic ahead of the Australian Open doesn't relieve him of any pressure to perform.

Hewitt is embarking on a 17th consecutive appearance at Melbourne Park, and will do so on the back of a confidence-boosting AAMI Classic win at Kooyong.

But the former world No.1 said he still wanted to reach his peak in Melbourne, despite a lot of the country's expectations resting on the shoulders of 20-year-old Tomic.

"Once I go out to play, it's not even in your mind," Hewitt said on Sunday when asked about handling the high expectations on the locals.

"You do all the preparation. I'm so used to it now anyway, sort of been in the spotlight, played big matches in grand slams and everything, it's second nature to you. You don't even worry about it."

Hewitt, 31, said he was proud of defying injury and illness throughout his professional career to turn out for his home grand slam every year.

"To play 17 Australian Opens in a row, main draw in singles, is something not easy to do. To be fit, I haven't been 100 percent for all of them, but in terms of the staying power, being able to play through generations, is something I'll look back on and be pretty proud of," he said.

And Hewitt anticipated it would be an exciting third-round contest should each of Tomic and world No.2 Roger Federer progress that far, as they would meet in the round-of-32.

"He's had good matches with Roger, but Roger has always been a class above in all

their match-ups so far," Hewitt said of Tomic.

"Bernie still has to get through one match at a time. He can't take anyone lightly, and I don't think he will anyway.

"But it will be an interesting match now playing Roger now that he's got a bit of confidence as well."

The 'big three' of Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic aside, Hewitt was also tipping Tomas Berdych and the man he beat in the Kooyong final, Juan Martin del Potro, as outside chances for the title.

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