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Hewitt handed Melbourne wild card

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Originally published on: 01/12/11 14:04

Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt has been awarded a wild card to play at the Australian Open in January.

The 30-year-old Adelaide-born star has suffered persistent injuries over the past year and will rely on a wildcard to avoid going through the qualifying process and assure his 16th career appearance at Melbourne Park.

Currently ranked at a lowly No.188 in the world, Hewitt played just 20 matches this season, winning nine of them. But Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley believes the Aussie battler is deserving of the wild card.

“Lleyton is a former world number one, twice a grand slam champion and Australia’s most successful Davis Cup player,” he said. “He reached the Australian Open final in 2005 and his passion and commitment to the game is second to none. We are delighted to offer him a wild card for 2012.”

Also handed a wildcard into last year’s tournament, Hewitt lost in the first round to David Nalbandian after a five set epic that finished 9-7 in the final set. He also went the distance during the summer at Wimbledon, where he eventually lost to Robin Soderling in another grueling encounter after taking the opening two sets.

Despite his battling showings, the 5’11” right-hander missed Roland Garros with an ankle injury and turned down a wildcard for the final grand slam of the year in New York this September, 10 years since he won the event, because of ongoing foot trouble.

“Lleyton has had some bad luck with injury recently, which has seen his ranking drop,” acknowledged Tilley. “But he has proved time and time again he can never be discounted, particularly in a big match.

“We look forward to welcoming him to the Australian Open in January.”

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