Hewitt eyes Hopman Cup as retirement looms

Departing tennis great Lleyton Hewitt will target the Hopman Cup as his main preparation ahead of his last Australian Open.

The former world No.1, conceding he has played in few tournaments over the past 12 months, said on Thursday that the Perth event, which comes a little more than a week out from the Australian Open, would be his best opportunity to ready himself for Melbourne.

The 34-year-old, who will retire after the Australian Open in January, will also take on fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in an exhibition match to be played in Hobart next month.

It will be the first time since he was a teenager that Hewitt has played in Tasmania.

The Hopman Cup, however, looms as his main preparation for the opening grand slam of 2016.

“It’s important going into the Australian Open, because I haven’t played that many tournaments this year, just to get matches under my belt. So the Hopman Cup provides that for me,” Hewitt said in Sydney at the launch of the 2016 Fast4 Tennis exhibition.

“I’m guaranteed three, possibly four matches against quality players,” he said.

The Hopman Cup will be held in Perth from January 3-9.

Hewitt will then head straight to Sydney to play in the Fast4 on the Monday night after the Hopman Cup, ahead of his last foray at the Australian Open, which begins a week later on January 18.

Renowned for his tenacity on the court, and a fierce competitive streak which has seen him play many an epic five-set match, Hewitt on Thursday acknowledged his farewell tour of sorts had been “going for well over a year”.

“I still love getting out there and competing and playing against the best guys in the world,” he said.

Hewitt will retire after contesting an unprecedented 20th consecutive Australian Open in January.

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