Sydney: Lleyton Hewitt, the youngest World No.1 a decade ago, is today ranked a lowly 186th coming from an injury-marred 2011 and he considers himself the most dangerous floater at the Australian Open.
Hewitt says he is an unseeded player to avoid at the season`s opening Grand Slam, starting in Melbourne Jan 16.
"Of all the unseeded guys that guys could draw, I would like to think that I would probably be tougher than most of the others, especially over five sets, because I pride myself on being able to go the distance," said Hewitt, who could be playing in his home Slam swansong as he struggles with a debilitating toe injury.
The 30-year-old father of three, however, insists that he is still motivated enough to carry on playing.
"The motivation is still there. If it wasn`t, it would be easy to give it away. If I wasn`t prepared to do all the hard work in the gym and running sand hills and hours on the practice courts and all that, then I wouldn`t be here. So obviously something is still motivating me," the Herald Sun quoted Hewitt as saying.
Hewitt, who returned to playing at the Hopman Cup this week, said some times "small setbacks like the injuries make you hungrier and stronger to come back as you sort of miss competing".
"Even at the Davis Cup tie at Royal Sydney only a few months ago, I had Federer a set and a break in that match, had Wawrinka two sets to one and (Chris Guccione and I) won an unbelievable epic doubles (against Federer and Wawrinka).
"So for three days there, I matched it with the best players in the world and that probably motivates you more, knowing that you are not that far away.
"If I am fully fit and feeling good, I can definitely push the best guys in the world. The hardest thing is going to be bouncing back and winning seven five-set matches in a row.
"But that is why you do all the fitness work, to put yourself in the position to do that," he added.
First Published: Saturday, January 07, 2012, 20:19