As Lleyton Hewitt’s near-two-decade career on the world tennis stage draws to a close, the former No.1 admits he’s been distracted in the lead up to his last hurrah at the Australian Open.
The 34-year-old said he’s been training hard ahead of the January grand slam event for which he’s been awarded a main draw wildcard.
But the new Davis Cup team captain says his preparation hasn’t been as focused as he would have liked.
“I’m so competitive that my main focus is still trying to prepare as well as possible and then go out there and do all the small things,” Hewitt told reporters on Friday in Hobart where he is playing an exhibition match against fellow Aussie Sam Groth.
“In some ways my mind has been preoccupied with the younger Australian boys and trying to work out the best thing for the rest of the Davis Cup squad to try and have a good result over the Australian summer and I guess you don’t really focus everything on your game then either.”
Hewitt said his involvement with the squad has kept him busy in recent months.
However it’s confidence, not nostalgia, that Hewitt will take to Melbourne Park.
And he wants to avoid a repeat of the long-fought battles with which he’s bowed out of other grand slams, such as his second-round, five-set loss to countryman Bernard Tomic at September’s US Open.
“Hopefully I don’t lose in five sets again,” Hewitt said of his Australian Open farewell.
“It feels like every send off I’ve had at every major event this year was like an epic five-set match.
“It will be nice to go out there and get a few wins and see how far I can go.”
In his absence, Hewitt said the future of Australian tennis looks bright, with players such as Groth proving their value.
“He’s obviously had one of his biggest breakout years this year so he’s confident at the moment,” Hewitt said of the big-serving 28-year-old, who goes to Melbourne Park ranked 60.
The Newcombe medallist who made the quarter finals at the Brisbane International and third round at Australian Open in 2015 has benefited from being part of the Davis Cup squad where he has worked closely with Hewitt.
“Until you’re thrown into situations like that it’s a lot easier to go out there and play like you’re the underdog all the time,” Hewitt said.
“When you’ve actually got to go out and play for your team and get a win on the board, that’s something unique and you grow as a person, as a player through those experiences.”