Hewitt champing at the bit

Former World Number One Lleyton Hewitt, expected to compete in his final Australian Open next month, has put as much preparation in this year's tournament as he did when he first turned professional almost two decades ago.

The two-time grand slam singles champion has never won at Melbourne Park – his best achievement was a place in the 2005 final, where he lost to number four seed Marat Safin. His fortunes are unlikely to change in 2016, and just making it to the second week of the tournament will be an enormous undertaking.

However, as has been the case with Hewitt throughout his career, the Australian will not be found wanting on effort and commitment. His preparations for next year's tournament date as far back as November 2015 and his fitness team confirms that it has been gruelling.

"In terms of endurance and durability playing professional sport at the highest level for 20 years, there wouldn't be many athletes who could match it with Lleyton for intensity on a day-to-day basis," fitness trainer Nathan Martin told Australian journalists this week.

"He never gets sore. He turns up every day with the same energy and commitment. His body composition and genetics, he's just blessed."

Martin said that when Hewitt does call it a day, the one thing he will always be remembered for is the physical commitment.

"For sheer volume of training and kilometres on court, only (Jimmy) Connors could compare – but even still he wasn't number one in the world at 20," added Martin.

For Hewitt and the Australian tennis fraternity, expectations are always high at this time of the season. The 2016 campaign will be no different. However, Hewitt's team is well aware of how significant a role the draw can play in a player's grand slam campaign.

"Obviously how he goes will depend a lot on the draw," explained Martin.

Regardless of who his opponents will be in the first round, Hewitt is still expected to carry himself with distinction.

"The only thing I know is that you'll have to drag him off the court. He won't lose. You'll have to beat him."

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