Hewitt seals AAMI title with win over injured Monfils

Melbourne, Jan 15 (DPA) Lleyton Hewitt defeated Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 Saturday to win the Kooyong Classic, capping a perfect scenario for his first appearance at the Australian Open tuneup event.

But Monfils is facing trouble after apparently tweaking a back muscle as he led in the second set and now will need treatment before his start next week at the Grand Slam.

“I hope it is not major,” said the second French finalist at the event after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2010. “I still have to see my physio.

“I played with less conviction in the second set, some of the time I was trying to test my back. But I have a day off Sunday and I will be hoping to be 100-per-cent fit for my start.”

Hewitt’s win paved the way smoothly for the Aussie tennis hero to make his start next week in a record 15th consecutive Open.

Hewitt was playing Kooyong for the first time after skipping ATP competition this month to play at the Hopman Cup team event in Perth followed by Kooyong, home of the Open until two decades ago.

“It means a lot for me to play on this court and have wins against a couple of quality players,” said double Grand Slam winner Hewitt, fresh and fit from two months of training after injuring a wrist in September.

“I am enjoying getting out of bed with no aches and pains. It always helps when the body feels good. There are a lot of tough matches next week, but I feel ready.”

Hewitt struggled against the 12th-ranked Monfils in a combative first set, with the Frenchman breaking as Hewitt served for the set leading 5-3. The Australian, ranked 54th, finally pulled out the opener three games later, needing five set points to get the job done.

After Monfils suffered his back problem midway early in the second set after breaking to start, Hewitt began to get the upper hand and won running away form his hindered opponent.

The Australian will open at his Grand Slam campaign at Melbourne Park against Argentine David Nalbandian in a re-run of the 2002 Wimbledon final won by Hewitt.


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