Hewitt: It's a strange feeling as retirement looms


Lleyton Hewitt said his first round draw at the Australian Open against fellow Australian James Duckworth is awkward but fun as he prepares for a final hurrah amidst some "strange" feelings.

Hewitt will retire after the Australian Open, in what will be his 20th consecutive appearance at Melbourne Park.

And the Australian former world number, who has US Open (2001) and Wimbledon (2002) grand slam wins to his name, said there was a certain inevitability about his opening round draw against good friend Duckworth.

"It was always bound to happen, wasn't it? Especially now that I've got a second hat on, a full-time job as Davis Cup captain," the 34-year-old said on Saturday.

"It's awkward, but in another way it's fun to go out there with 'Ducks'. I've been helping him the last few years. He's been part of the Davis Cup squad on a number of occasions. He's a great kid.

"It is a unique situation. It's something that I haven't had to deal with, playing another Aussie on Rod Laver Arena, that much. I'll just try to go out there and put on a good show."

Hewitt said he was trying to approach his final Australian Open in as normal a fashion as possible, but said there were some weird emotions lingering.

"It's a tad strange feeling, but I'm trying to soak it up as much as possible," added Hewitt.

"I guess it's different in the fact that if you do go out then, yes, it is the end. But you got to try to block that out as much as possible. You could go through all the same emotions again two days later, as well. That's going to be the tough part to deal with."

Hewitt, now ranked 306 in the world, said he just wanted to hit the ground running with his trademark competitive nature willing him as far as he can go.

"I feel like I just need to get that match toughness back, the last two weeks has been good. I had a good hit-out with 'Fed' [Roger Federer] yesterday. Hit with [Andy] Murray this afternoon. Hitting with the best guys," Wawrinka said.

"I go in thinking I can be competitive with these guys, absolutely. I'm not looking past 'Ducks', though, at all. I've got to take it one match at a time and focus on that.

"It's important to do that, but I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough to push a lot of guys out there. Hopefully the body holds up."