2014/09/22

Rafael Nadal Dusts Off Lleyton Hewitt at Sony Open

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 22, 2014) Rafael Nadal dominated Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday night 6-1, 6-3 at the Sony Open.

Back on Thursday Hewitt joined Nadal and Roger Federer as the only active players with 600 or more career wins on the ATP World Tour.

Lleyton Hewitt Reaches 600th Win Milestone

“I think I played a solid match with not many mistakes,” Nadal explained.  “It’s true that I am having the feeling of the back better for two weeks already, so I start to feel a little bit more comfortable with the serve because I am able to practice a little bit the serve and to do the normal movement again.

“So that’s important thing for me.  And from the baseline, I think in Indian Wells I didn’t play the right way.  I think I played with too many mistakes.  Some good points; some bad points.  I tried to play with all the time the logical shot.

“So playing against his backhand, and when I had the chance change to the down the line with the forehand, no?  I think the good thing is I didn’t have a lot of mistakes.

“I think Lleyton played much better in the second set.  He played more aggressive.  I was solid with my serve.  Some good rallies.

“Very happy the way that I played at the end of the first set.  Start to feeling the ball very well with the forehand, changing directions.

“In general, I have to be very happy the way that I start, I think.”

Nadal moves into the third round.

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Rafael Nadal to Meet Lleyton Hewitt in Opening Match at Sony Open

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 21, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal opens up his campaign to try and win his first Sony Open on Saturday when he meets 33-year-old veteran and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday day night in Key Biscayne.

 

“I think he’s a great inspiration for a lot of players after winning a lot of things as he did, and having a lot of physical problems he’s able to keep competing with unbelievable spirit, great motivation” Nadal said of Hewitt.  “He’s able to come back after important injuries.

“So that’s a great example for the rest of the players.  I am happy to see him playing well again.  Hopefully not tomorrow,” Nadal said with a smile.

“But, yeah, he already won a tournament this year, so it will be a tough match for me.  I need to play well.  I’m going to try.”

 

The Sony Open is one of very few events the Spaniard has never won.

 

“I would love to win here any year,” Nadal said.

 

“When I am playing a tournament, I always try my best in every one.

So when I go on court, I try my best in every tournament, in every match.  I gonna do it the same here, no?

“Hopefully I will have a good few days.  I hope to be competitive tomorrow.  Never is easy the first round, especially when you play an opponent like Lleyton, and especially when he already played a match, so it will be tough battle.

“I need to be very competitive.  I need to be ready.  I hope I will be.”

“I prefer an easier opponent,” said a smiling Nadal.  “But that’s what there is.  I cannot choose the draw.

“Gonna be tough one.  But at the same time, he’s a player that you can play ‑‑ we are gonna play rallies from the baseline.  Gonna be a hard one.

But the good thing of playing these kind of matches is that if you are able to win, you will be in rhythm for the tournament.

“Against the players that I played last week, (Radek) Stepanek or (Alexamdr) Dolgopolov, even if you win, you feel that you are not playing the point the way you want to play.

“So different history.  The good thing is if I am able to play a good match tomorrow and win, probably I will be confident and on rhythm.

If I lose, I gonna be on rhythm flying home.”

Nadal holds a  6-4 head-to-head record against Hewitt.

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Showdown in Hong Kong for World Tennis Day Sees Aussies Win

 

 

By Natalie Ho

(March 3, 2014) HONG KONG – The second annual BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong, part of ITF’s World Tennis Day initiative, was concluded in lighthearted fashion with the participation of four star players – Li Na, Sam Stosur, Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt. The evening turned out to be a good one for the Aussies as Former US Open winner Sam Stosur beat reigning Australian Open champion Li Na 6-4, 6-3 in the opening match, while former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt defeated No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the second match of the evening.

This year the event was moved to the newly opened Hong Kong Velodrome where a tennis court and bleacher seats were built especially for this showdown. Those lucky fans with tickets to the temporary bleachers were literally court-side. They were treated to an intimate setting with the only disadvantage being the chance to get hit by serves. However, spectators in the upper section were separated from the action by a cycling track which was quite a distraction and might explain the lack of atmosphere especially at the beginning.

Missing Li last year due to injury, the crowd was happy to see her finally but Stosur also had very vocal support. The ladies traded service breaks multiple times but in the end it was Stosur, the more solid player in the match, who prevailed. The men’s match was, in contrast, more exhibition-like. Berdych was quite a crowd pleaser while Hewitt’s competitive drive was visible even in an exhibition. The crowd really got into the match towards the end and was shouting “third set, third set”. However, it was not to be as after some tussling Hewitt was able to close out the match.

Earlier in the day the players participated in a news conference to kick off the event.

Lleyton Hewitt, asked about the International Premier Tennis League, said Asia is a massive growth area for tennis so being an Aussie he’s excited to take part.

Tomas Berdych was asked about hiring a star coach. He feels this is not a must and that a star coach may not work well within a team.

Sam Stosur is happy to be working on different things with her new coach Miles Maclagan and plans to play more doubles this year.

Li Na naturally received the most questions. Between more GS & #1 she wants both. #1 is a goal as she’s now on her career high ranking. She also revealed a funny team dynamic: her husband would tell Carlos his ideas so Carlos would say them. Otherwise she wouldn’t listen.

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Lleyton Hewitt Commits to New International Premier Tennis League

iptl

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 21, 2014) MELBOURNE – Lleyton Hewitt has announced he has committed to the International Premier Tennis League for the year, a new development which has been confirmed to debut in November 2014.

Falling between November 28 and December 20, the new series intends to offer quality matches to players during the off-season in a uniquely formatted, team-based tournament. Its main focus is centred around bringing high profile players to Asian countries and entertaining tennis aficionados internationally.

“I have a huge fan base in Asia which is important to me,” Hewitt said.

“That was one key aspect of me getting interested in the first place.

“Especially for myself, playing in Asia is such a big part of the Australian Open, Australasia Grand Slam. Expanding in that market is good for our sport.

“I think that’s the biggest thing for the event as well, for pumping up tennis in the Asia area… I have no doubt there’s going to be a lot of quality players that are still real contenders at the Grand Slams, and I think it needs that.”

Each team will be made up of six to 10 players and will comprise of a combination of categories including current players, tennis legends and the future stars of tennis; both men and women.

Team members in relevant categories will play a round robin in men’s singles, mens doubles, women’s singles, mixed doubles and legends doubles – both home-and-away – with the home team selecting the order of play on the night of the matches.

There will be no advantage scoring and a tie-break at 5-5, making for a time-sensitive format of no longer than three-and-a-half hours duration which is unique to the sport and ideal for television.

The winner of each round will be determined by the most games won by the team as opposed to the number of sets. At the end of the round robin, there will be a grand final to decide upon the champion team.

“Ideally we’d like to get to 10 teams by 2020,” Indian professional tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi said.

“(But) it will be a minimum of five, maximum of six in the first go.”

The cities to be involved in this year’s event are Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Mumbai and one more Middle Eastern city yet to be confirmed.

“I’ve obviously witnessed the Twenty20 Cricket really explode as well. This has been that format where we get the opportunity to play in a close-knit team, which is close to my heart, growing up with Australian football and team sports,” Hewitt said.

“That’s one thing lacking in tennis. We don’t get the chance to participate in a team. I look forward to that.

“I love playing in a team environment. I enjoy that. Travelling around and playing within that timeframe, it fits in well with me.”

There is also talk of a large amount of prize money being invested into the tournament to attract some of the best players the sport has to offer.

According to Hewitt, the Asian tennis league has already received much interest from the players.

“A lot of the talk in the locker room is very positive. I have no doubt there’s going to be a lot of big names released in the next couple of weeks to next month or so.”

But with the dramatic altering of the traditional landscape of the sport, there is a concern that such an unusual format could taint the legacy of the game.

“We’re hoping for a positive impact,” Bhupathi said.

“I think things are changing worldwide. That’s why IPL (cricket) has been so successful. Nothing will ever change the four pillars of our sport which are the four Grand Slams.

“I think the youth of our sport are looking for something fun, innovative. I think this format brings the biggest stars in the world, creating something new and fresh for tennis.”

The player draft is to take place on March 2, in Dubai, later this year.

 

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Rafter’s Return is Short but Sweet

 

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 15, 2014) MELBOURNE – The pairing was always going to be a fun watch. People far and wide had been eagerly awaiting Pat Rafter’s surprise return to men’s doubles, partnered with fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, but Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen proved too strong to break and they clinched the match in two fairly straight forward sets over the Australians, 6-4, 7-5

 

But with the final result cast aside, the old timer and his close friend had the fun they had set out to experience and they were pleased to have refocused the public’s attention to how deserving the truly entertaining doubles game is of being showcased on the big, centre court stage.

 

“It’s always great fun being back out there with Lleyton. Having a player like him, you know you’re going to get a few games,” Rafter said in reflection of his comeback match.

 

“It was a bit of fun. It was a good crowd atmosphere out there. It was good for the tournament, I think,” Hewitt said.

 

​”It’s not always about getting the result. As you could see, the buildup, the media and press and public and everything once we got announced in the draw, I think it was just good for the tournament and for Australian tennis.

 

“Pat helped me out when I first came into the Davis Cup team as a 15, 16-year-old. He took me under his wing, helped me out. We obviously played some massive Davis Cup matches together as well. We’ve got a pretty good friendship. It’s just nice to be out there. We still enjoy it, have a bit of a laugh.”

 

The Australians exhibited some elegant, classic style doubles, pressing up to the net for the deep volleys, but the American, Butorac, barely missed a shot and neither Hewitt or Rafter could make much of his consistently flat returns.

 

While their return of service was lacking in strategy, as Rafter was the first to admit after the match, both Australians delivered mostly solid service games throughout. Rafter offered much variation and Hewitt launched many body serves, forcing the player opposite the returning partner to step into more physically demanding play along the net.

 

“I served better than I thought I would. I volleyed okay,” Rafter said, reflecting on his lack of preparation.

 

“Gee, I wish I returned a bit better than that. And my second shot was just… forget it, it was horrible. It was actually laughable. At a certain stage, I was just laughing.

 

“I probably should have practised a bit more. I just didn’t return. I knew that was going to be the worst part of my game and it was.”

 

And Croatian former Grand Slam champion Goran Ivanisovic had a few digs at his old friend’s expense as Rafter explained.

 

“​He said it was ‘f-ing bad’, not just bad, that it was really bad. I said, ‘yeah’. He said, ‘you served okay’

 

“Goran and I have been hanging out. We played a fair few tournaments with each other in Europe. We got to spend a fair amount of time with each other. He takes the piss out of me and he thinks it’s funny,” the Australian laughed, tongue-in-cheek.

 

 

Klaasen’s quick reflexes came so naturally at the net, allowing them to dominate their service games, and he and Butorac finished many a point with winners being their first volley on serve.

 

After the win, Butorac expressed how much respect he had for his 41-year-old tennis idol and told of how he initially had difficulty grasping the reality of playing the one and only Patrick Rafter in his Australian Open 2014 round one clash.

 

“I think I checked the draw about three times to check what I was really seeing,” Butorac said with a chuckle in the on court post-match interview.

 

“But it was an absolute honour to play out there with Pat. I’m actually renting an apartment with some friends and there’s an autographed Bonds T-shirt of Pat’s in my bedroom. So I’ve woken up to that the last three days.”

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Patrick Rafter Returns to Play Australian Open Doubles to Pair with Lleyton Hewitt

Patrick Rafter

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 12, 2014) MELBOURNE, Australia – Pat Rafter surprised tennis aficionados far and wide by announcing his return to ATP men’s doubles on the eve of the Australian Open 2014, partnering up with fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt.

 

For the two-time US Open champion, who was thought to have retired from tennis for good, this appearance will mark his first Grand Slam doubles match since the Australian Open 2004; an entire decade ago. It has been a further three years since his last singles appearance on the ATP Tour.

 

Rafter explained the circumstances surrounding Hewitt’s invitation, evidently excited by the prospect of playing at Grand Slam level once again.

 

“Lleyton wanted to play maybe another match here. Just depending on how he goes in singles, you know, say if he played with Gucc (Chris Guccione) or someone like that and then he had a tough first-round singles match, he would have to back up the singles and maybe pull out of doubles. So I’m the guy,” Rafter said, eyes gleaming.

 

“It’s really important for him to play great singles. That’s what it’s all about. He still likes playing competitive matches. So if he gets through the first singles and he feels comfortable, feeling he might want to play, it’s whatever Lleyton wants.

 

“I’ve had a great relationship with Lleyton over the years. We’ve also played a few practice matches in Davis Cup. I keep playing a little bit. Under pressure I’ll probably choke. Expect that to happen.”

 

While Rafter and Hewitt have never before teamed up at the Australian Open, they have shared the doubles court during the Davis Cup. Rafter was the first to criticise his rusty performance on the court.

 

“It was shocking, horrible. I was really bad. So my mates are sending me texts saying: ‘Can you please work on your returns?’ I’ll definitely be the worst player in the competition out there, but I’ll have fun. I’m playing with one of the best players in the competition. I figure it’s like eating chocolate and having broccoli. It sort of equals it out,” Rafter said with a chuckle.

 

“The hardest part about being around 40 is keeping your body in shape. It’s tough, I must admit. You don’t look after yourself like you did. You’re not in the locker room all the time. It’s just a bit of fun. Doubles, half a court, I think I can do that.”

 

If all goes ahead as planned, the Australians will find themselves in a first round clash with American Eric Butorac and South African Raven Klaasen.

 

The 41-year-old Australian won a Masters tournament at Albert Hall in London late last year after overcoming Tim Henman in straight sets, 6-3 6-1. This victory led him to reclaim the Statoil Masters title for the first time since 2009. But the former Grand Slam champion was surprised by his own form.

 

“I was actually playing well. I played the week before, and won. I played pretty well, singles have gone okay. But doubles has changed since I played. We used to play first serve, first volley and don’t miss. Now they’re jumping all over the place. Their serve just rockets down at you. I can’t return them at the best of times. I don’t know what I’m going to do out there,” Rafter laughed with a shrug.

 

While he enjoys his captaincy of the Davis Cup team, he is adamant he will not be following the recent trend of ex-players coaching on tour.

 

“That’s not going to happen. Davis Cup is enough for me.”

 

Nor does he plan to play with Hewitt at the Davis Cup despite recent rumors suggesting otherwise.

 

“There would have to be food poisoning or sicknesses. That would be my worst nightmare,” Rafter said.

 

“We won’t have anybody to sit on the side of the court, so we can’t do that!” Hewitt added.

 

Hewitt expressed his excitement about the new pairing and how, above all, he is looking forward to just having fun – a nice break from his serious focus on singles.

 

“I think he still thinks he’s got it in him, so I hope I don’t have to carry him too much. I actually asked him a little while ago,” Hewitt admitted.

 

“He still hits a lot at the Davis Cup ties, works us out a bit. It’s just a bit of fun. It will be nice on my off days, and hopefully I’m still in the singles, it will be nice to go out and play dubs with Pat. He’s hitting the ball well enough. Beat Ivanisevic and Henman and those guys over in the seniors tour. It’s just going to be a bit of fun for both of us.

 

“I obviously looked up to Pat a hell of a lot growing up. He really helped me out. It’s great that he’s Davis Cup captain for me now as well. Most likely, I’ll finish my career with him as Davis Cup captain which is fantastic for me as well. While we’re still able to move around the court together, it’s nice we can go out there and play in a Grand Slam.”

 

But was Tony Roche upset that Hewitt hadn’t asked him to play doubles instead of Rafter?

 

“Nah, he (Roche) would have gone all right, I reckon. Newk (John Newcombe) is probably more pissed off actually,” Hewitt joked.

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com

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Lleyton Hewitt Upsets Roger Federer for Brisbane Title

 

LleytonHewittHOF

(January 5, 2014) For the first time since the Halle in 2010 Lleyton Hewitt has won a tournament. In a battle of 32-year-olds, Hewitt stunned No. 1 seed Roger Federer 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to win Brisbane International.

The former No. 1 who have been playing each other on tour since 1999 were playing their 27 match against each.

In the first set, Hewitt came out as the Hewitt of old, breaking Federer three times with Federer hitting 22 unforced errors.

The momentum swung in Federer’s favor in the second set after fighting back to even the match.

The third set was a tale of missed opportunities for the 17-time major champion. Federer failed to take advantage of seven break points within the Australian’s first three service games. Overall Federer was 1 for 10 in break point chances on the day.

The first game of the final set lasted 16 minutes with Hewitt saving 4 break points. In turn, Federer was broken in the fourth game and Hewitt held on to win.

“Playing the best players in the world and finals of tournaments, always it’s exciting,” Hewitt said. “That’s why you still play the game. For me, it was motivation enough just to try to get the win out there and obviously win another title. It’s been a couple of years. So I was just ready for the challenge today.

“I played great obviously at the start, really well. It took Roger a little bit of time to get into the match. Then I just had to fight hard at the start of the third set.

“It means a lot with the calibre of players here as well in this tournament. It’s not an easy tournament to win. I wasn’t one of the top four seeds, so I had to win all five matches to get through. There are pleasing parts and massive positives to take out of it.”

“I didn’t play great today which is a bit unfortunate, but also Lleyton was the best player I played this week,” Federer said. “He made it toughest on me. So I have a clear idea what I need to work on, and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is that… I’m very hungry and eager to attack the Australian Open next week.”

For Hewitt,  who is now 7-2 in finals in Australia, it’s his first tournament win on home soil since he captured Sydney in 2005. He raises his record against Federer to 9-18. The victory will move him up in the rankings from No. 60 to around No. 43. The last time Hewitt was in the top 50 was in October 2010.

 

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Tennis News & Net Notes

Lleyton Hewitt not retiring (just yet): The former world #1 is not planning to retire right after the 2014 Australian Open “It won’t be the last,” he said of the year’s opening grand slam during his visit in preparation for this month’s Brisbane International. via The Sydney Morning Herald

 Lleyton Hewitt (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Lleyton Hewitt (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Junior Orange Bowl Results and Match report: American Francis Taifoe causes biggest upset of the week via ITF Tennis.

WTA Tour Top 10 Most clicked-on players: Her ranking and popularity rising, Simona Halep (pictured) is #10, Serena Willams is #1.

Simona+Halep+2013+French+Open+Day+2+dKE0Rx5vx4lx

ATP Tour 2013 By the Numbers: Match wins and ranking improvements- Novak Djokovic played in the 2 longest (time) best of five matches of the year

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In a Battle of Thirty-Somethings, Mikhail Youzhny Beats Lleyron Hewitt in Five Sets

Youzhny

(September 3, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In a battle of tennis thirty-somethings, 31-year-old Mikhail Youzhny of Russia within two points of defeat came back against 32-year-old Australian Lleyton Hewitt to win 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5 in the fourth round of the US Open on Tuesday.

“I’m happy now, and it was really tough match,” said the Russian.  “Of course I’m happy because I play many matches against Lleyton, and I beat him only once in the Tokyo.

“I know that he’s great player and he’s great fighting player, I mean, who is fighting every point, every match.

“For me, this way what I beat him today, it’s really important actually.”

The 21st seed Youzhny’s best performances in majors have come at the US Open, making the semifinals in both 2006 and 2010.

Hewitt, a former No. 1 won the US Open back in 2002. He is currently ranked 66th in the world due to a series of injuries.

The match swayed back and forth, the Russian went up a set and a break and then momentum swung Hewitt’s way as he went up two sets to one.

Hewitt went up 3-0 and 4-1 in the fourth set but Youzhny bounced back with a run of six straight games.

In the fifth set both men exchanged breaks, with Hewitt gaining an additional break of serve moving to 5-2 lead and was two points away from taking the match. Hewitt served for the match at 5-3, but Youzhny broke him to make it 5-4 and won the next three games to seal the match.

In the end Hewitt won more points than his opponent during the match 146-145.

“Obviously could have gone either way,” Hewitt said.  “There was a lot of momentum changes, yeah, right from the start.

“Yeah, he had a lot of different swings out there where we both played better at certain stages for three or four games.  You know, it was hard for both of us to hold our serves at times as well out there.

“You know, in the end, he played the big games when he needed to.  He didn’t give me too many cheap errors.”

“When you’re on court you just try to continue to play every match, “the Russia said in regard to the momentum swings.  “Never know what happens in the match like today.  Sometimes Lleyton help me, sometimes I play well, so it looks like 4‑1 down, but it was just one break.

“Of course we have a lot of breaks today, and you understand maybe you have chance next game or just try to be focus and continue to fight.”

“It was tough match, and sometime ‑‑ it was many times during the match when I won the many games in the row and I lost many games in the row,” he continued.  “The same like I won many points in a row then lost like many more ten points in the row.

“So it was good rally some.  It was some good points, and just try to best what you can.”

Youzhny will play No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

“I have to play well,” Youzhny said. “First of all,” Youzhny continued, “I have to recover after this match.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Stuns Juan Martin Del Poto in Five Sets at US Open

LleytonHewittHOF

(August 30, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Twelve years ago Australian Lleyton Hewitt won the US Open title. At 32-years-old the veteran and former No. 1, came back to upset sixth seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Poto Potro 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1 in four hours and three minutes, to move into the third round of the US Open.

“It was unbelievable atmosphere,” Hewitt said. “I just kept fighting and putting it out there.  You know, I kept coming at him the whole night.  Felt like I was seeing the ball well.  Felt like I played a good game plan for most of the night as well.

“Yeah, through the fourth set I felt like even though I was down on the scoreboard two sets to one, I felt like I was getting in more of his service games, holding a little bit more comfortable.  Possibly he was getting that half a step slower through that fourth set.”

“A couple years ago, when I had a couple foot surgeries, I didn’t know if I was going to play tennis again,” Hewitt said.

“For me to be out here competing, it’s a … lot of fun. I cherish every match I get out there. This is why I still play, to have moments like this.”

The difference in the match came in the unforced errors department. Del Potro made 70 errors with most of them coming on his backhand side.

“He’s a great champion, a great fighter, and for the second round, he’s a very difficult player to play,” Del Potro said.

”I wish all the best.  I like when he’s winning and when he’s doing well, he’s healthy.  He play like he has a chance to go far in this tournament.

”Of course, I wish all the best to him.  I have a good relationship.  He’s a very good player to play, and that’s it.”

 

Hewitt will play 102nd-ranked Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the third round.

“I hit with him a couple of days ago,” Hewitt said. “First time I’d ever seen him.”

“We practiced the day before my first‑round match.  Yeah, his coach just came up and asked.  I didn’t really know the guy at all.  It was only because we both had Wednesday starts that we hit together.

“Yeah, he’s a typical sort of Russian/Czech kind of player.  Good double‑handed backhand.  Very good across the baseline with both his groundstrokes.  Hits the ball pretty flat.  He’s kind of a Davydenko kind of player.

“He’s not going to be easy by no means.  I think he beat Youzhny at the Aussie Open this year and had some decent wins.

“I’ll enjoy the win tonight, recovery tomorrow, and start focusing on that.”

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