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Hewitt opens campaign

By Darren Walton 27/12/2002 07:09:18 PM Comments (0)

World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt opens his 2003 campaign on Sunday as the Australian summer of tennis gets underway in three states across the country next week.

Hewitt will be back in business for first time since winning the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai five weeks ago when he and Alicia Molik lead Australia's challenge at the 15th Hopman Cup in Perth.

The Australians are seeded second in the mixed teams competition, behind the powerful US combination of James Blake and Serena Williams.

Hewitt's first competitive outing since his epic five-set victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Shanghai Masters final will be against Italian David Sanguinetti.

While all eyes in Perth will be on Hewitt, another Australian youngster is likely to grab plenty of attention in Adelaide when the AAPT Championships begin on Monday.

Wimbledon junior champion Todd Reid, Australia's brightest prospect, will take to the Memorial Drive courts brimming with confidence after a memorable 2002.

Reid and Queenslander Scott Draper were on Friday granted wildcards into the event, just as Australia's second-ranked player Wayne Arthurs withdrew with a calf injury.

Reid's special invitation follows his wildcard entry last week to the adidas International in Sydney, starting January 5.

The Sydney teenager spent three days hitting with Hewitt and getting a "few pointers" from the Wimbledon champion in Adelaide last week and won't be overawed this summer playing in only his third and fourth senior tournaments.

"We hit for a couple of hours every day. That was a good experience hitting with Lleyton, just to see what it's all about - the No.1 in the world," he said.

"We talked about a few things to bring into my game.

"(Now) hopefully I can get some matches under my belt and start my career."

Reid said after being awarded his wildcard for Sydney that "anything's possible" when asked if he could emulate Hewitt's remarkable triumph over Andre Agassi to win the 1998 AAPT Championship as a 16-year-old ranked 550 in the world.

"Hopefully I can. That's why they're giving me a run at it, so obviously they believe that I can," Reid said.

Reid's confidence stems from his years at the famed Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.

"Nick's probably the No.1 motivator in the world. He's probably the No.1 positive man in the world, I think personally, so there's a lot of positive energy (in me)," he admitted.

The 18-year-old confirmed himself a star in the making when he had big-serving Brit Greg Rusedksi down a set and a break of serve on grass in Nottingham this year.

Reid lost the match, but claimed nerves had nothing to do with the defeat, which he said would help steel him for another crack at the big boys in the coming weeks.

"I guess I just wasn't mentally up to it at that stage," Reid said.

"Sometimes you've got to take it stages at a time. Hopefully that one will help me."

Like most, Reid dreams of being world No.1 one day but, for now, he has more modest hopes.

"I'm hoping for the top 10 and winning a grand slam at the moment," he said.

And another wildcard into next month's Australian Open.

"You've just got to wait and see."

Just as everyone is waiting to see this summer if Reid can live up to his exciting billing as Australia's next big thing.

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