Hewitt`s mind still fighting fit despite aches and pains

Melbourne: The competitive fires still burn deep inside of Lleyton Hewitt whatever his injury-ravaged body may tell him.

The feisty Australian has not won a grand slam title since 2002 and has steadily slid down the world rankings with injuries and the demands of fatherhood taking their toll.

He was off the circuit for five months in 2008 after undergoing hip surgery and has been troubled by niggles ever since, including a back spasm at this month`s Hopman Cup.

But the former world number one has never given up hope of making it back to the top, driven by his dream to win the Australian Open.

He has already won Wimbledon and the US Open but the closest he has come to winning his home grand slam was when he made the final in 2005.

"I love walking down the corridors, walking onto centre court," he said. "I`ve got a lot of great memories from this place, playing at Melbourne Park."

"They all come back when you walk through the corridors out on center court."

Hewitt has hardly rated a mention in the run-up to this year`s Australian Open, which starts on Monday, and is wary about his aching body but the 28-year-old father of two is no less enthusiastic.

"You`re always trying to improve and work on little areas of your game," he said. "Obviously I had a few setbacks with injuries and having surgery and stuff like that."

"Your training sometimes alters a little bit compared to some of the stuff you may have done before but it`s a management thing."

"As you get older, you start getting a few niggles, you have to work around that. In terms of playing, I still know my A-game."

Hewitt`s fighting qualities have never been in doubt but as he starts his 13th season on the professional tour, he is facing more and questions about his future.

The Aussie insists, however, he has no plans of retiring.

"It`s not something I`m thinking about. I haven`t thought about it in the past. This year`s no different," he said.

"I`m not thinking about that right at the moment. It`s still a great excitement every time I come here."

"I`ve done all the hard work. Now it`s a matter of going on the match court and hopefully executing."

"If I play my game and play as well as I know I can and the way I`m hitting the ball, yeah, I`ve got a chance."

Bureau Report