Hewitt back for more after teaming up with young gun
FOR a retired player, Lleyton Hewitt sure is busy. Following in the footsteps of Dame Nellie Melba and John Farnham, Hewitt has again come out of retirement to receive a 2019 Brisbane International doubles wildcard with Alex de Minaur.
Two years after officially hanging up the racquet from singles play, Hewitt, 37, still clearly has an itch to scratch after accepting an offer to return to the scene of one of the most stirring victories of his glittering career.
Hewitt is a confirmed doubles starter with fellow Aussie de Minaur at the season-opening Queensland event, where the two-time grand slam champion pulled off a shock win over Roger Federer to claim the 2014 Brisbane International title.
Hewitt has acted as a mentor for rising star de Minaur who earned 2018 ATP Newcomer of the Year honours and was joint winner of this year's John Newcombe Medal with Ash Barty after surging from world No.208 to a career high 31 in a stellar season.
Hewitt's guidance helped the 19-year-old de Minaur enjoy a breakout 12 months which began with runs to the Brisbane semi-finals and Sydney final, earning the teen a Davis Cup debut.
De Minaur also reached two ATP finals and made the third round at both Wimbledon and the US Open before rounding out his year with a runner-up showing at Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
Now Hewitt will take on a hands-on approach with de Minaur in Brisbane. The pair have spent endless hours on the practice court together and are no strangers on the doubles scene despite Hewitt's 2016 retirement, combining to make the Estoril ATP quarter-finals in May.
Hewitt's Brisbane wildcard has added to speculation the former world No.1 will also contest the doubles for Australia in their Davis Cup qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide in February.
Remarkably Hewitt is the world No.144 ranked player in doubles with a 6-7 win- loss record for 2018 despite walking away from full-time tennis after the 2016 Australian Open.
Among other Brisbane International wildcard recipients were former US Open champion Samantha Stosur and Kim Birrell, who won the Australian Open wildcard playoff this month.
Other Brisbane International wildcard recipients were Alex Bolt, Alexei Popyrin, James Duckworth (men's main draw), JP Smith, Mav Banes (men's qualifying), Priscilla Hon (women's main draw), Zoe Hives, Destanee Aiava, Lizette Cabrera and Naiktha Bains (women's qualifying).