Hewitt aims for net gains

Lleyton Hewitt has revealed he is building his challenge for another Wimbledon title on success at the net.

updated: June 15, 2008 18:12 IST
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Lleyton Hewitt has revealed he is building his challenge for another Wimbledon title on success at the net.

Hewitt won at the All-England Club in 2002 with a game-plan based largely on grinding opponents down from the baseline.

But the Australian believes his best chance of emulating that success now is to seize the initiative from the start. That means coming into the net more often, so he has been practising his volleying with coach Tony Roche.

"I continue to try and improve, come to the net, play a bit more of an all court game, just add another dimension to my game on every surface. Hopefully that can take me to the next level and keep improving," Hewitt said.

"That's obviously one area that Rochey and I have been working on. But it's not just for grass; it's going to be useful on clay and hard courts as well.

"If I'm serving well I can be tough to beat because, you know, my return of serve is one of my biggest strengths. So if I can put enough pressure on my opponents, they're going to have to serve extremely well to keep holding their serves all day."

Hewitt is putting his new approach to the test at Queen's Club this week and the experiment is going well, as Wednesday's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Xavier Malisse proved.

The 27-year-old is also playing doubles at Queen's with Australian Chris Guccione, a decision which is both motivated by self-interest and a desire to help his young compatriot.

Hewitt knows doubles play can only help his volleying but he is also keen to take Guccione under his wing and believes the partnership could even flourish for Australia in the Davis Cup.

"For me, I still feel like I can teach Gooch a lot on the court. So for me I enjoy playing with him and I think he responds to playing with me a lot better than maybe a lot of other players," Hewitt said.

"Maybe down the track, if we do play more matches, we will be another option. Gooch is obviously the standout player we've got coming up. He's the most likely opportunity to get into the top 50, top 20 in the world.

"Davis Cup wise, when I'm gone he's going to be playing a lot of the matches as well.

"Anything that I can pass on to him is an extra bonus, I hope for him and not only his career, but for him and Davis Cup."