Hewitt returns a week early - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hewitt returns a week early

03/03/2003 06:03:25 PM Comments (0)

Lleyton Hewitt, his world No.1 ranking under pressure from Andre Agassi, returns to action a week earlier than planned at this week's Templeton Classic.

Hewitt has not played an ATP event since losing to Younes El Aynaoui in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.

The 21-year-old Australian won a singles and doubles tie in Australia's 4-1 Davis Cup rout of Britain last month in Sydney and has not competed since.

With a Masters Series title to defend starting March 10 at Indian Wells, Hewitt will get a hard court tune up in Scottsdale where Agassi is also playing, still unbeaten this year.

Both Hewitt and Davis Cup teammate Mark Philippoussis have accepted wild card entries.

As of March 3, Hewitt will have held No.1 for 68 consecutive weeks, the seventh-longest streak at No.1 in the history of the ATP rankings.

But he stands a distant 45th in this season's Champions point race, while Agassi, going strong at age 32, has won both tournaments he has played so far, San Jose and the Australian Open.

The American icon is seeded second behind Hewitt and will be aiming to repeat as trophy holder.

The fast conditions and hard-courts make this venue and Indian Wells among the most favourable for the American veteran's game.

And Agassi is hardly lacking in confidence, even if Hewitt does hold the top spot in the Entry System standings used to determine tournament seedings.

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