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Hewitt handed US Open wildcard

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Originally published on: 18/08/11 10:06

With just over a week to go until the start of the final Grand Slam of the year, the USTA has announced that Lleyton Hewitt will join a list of Americans to earn a free pass into the main draw.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau follows the Australian into the 128-strong field at Flushing Meadows, while the pair are joined by home-grown players Robby Ginepri, Ryan Harrison, reigning NCAA champion Steve Johnson, recently-turned pro Jack Sock and Donald Young.

Hewitt, who won the US Open in 2001, is currently ranked at a lowly No.165 in the world – a far cry from the No.1 spot he first achieved after winning his maiden Grand Slam title in New York.

Plagued by injury troubles in recent years, the 30-year-old has surpassed the second round of a tournament on just three occasions this year, losing in the quarter-finals to Juan Martin del Potro in San Jose, Andy Roddick in Memphis and Philipp Kohlschreiber in Halle. He showed flashes of his former best at Wimbledon this year when he held a two-set advantage over world No.5 Robin Soderling in the second round, but proved unable to stay the course as the Swede struck back to win in five. Even so, the fiery Aussie is still very much up for the task of mixing it with the best in the big apple.

“I’m really looking forward to New York,” said Hewitt. “It’s 10 years on since I won there and I’ve still got the passion and hunger which is great.”

Under a reciprocal agreement between the USTA and Tennis Australia, the latter is able to select two Australian players for the US Open, and Todd Woodbridge, Tennis Australia’s head of Professional Tennis, said Hewitt was fully deserving of a spot in the main draw.

“He’s had a tough run with injuries over the past few months but his fighting spirit is undiminished and we are very pleased to be able to grant him a wildcard into the US Open,” he said.

The women’s wildcard recipient will be announced later this week, while the winner of an eight player tournament run by the USTA will be granted the eighth wildcard spot in the men’s draw.

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