Hewitt wins Kooyong title
Melbourne - Lleyton Hewitt showed vintage form as he humbled Juan Martin Del Potro 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday to win the Kooyong Classic, giving him a major boost ahead of his first match at the Australian Open.
The former world No 1 and two-time Grand Slam winner a decade ago completed victories over three top-15 opponents at the eight-man special event at the Kooyong Stadium - the former home of the Australian Open.
Hewitt's current game belies his 82nd place ranking, with the 31-year-old veteran hopeful of doing major damage as he begins play on Monday against Serb eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic at Melbourne Park.
"Janko is a tough first round - but there are not too many easy first rounds out there," said Hewitt. "He's a quality player who has improved a lot in the past two years.
"It's nice to know I've done all the right preparation, I can just go out there and play," said the battler who a year ago had the foot surgery that finally cured a lingering problem that had forced him to play in pain.
Hewitt earned his comprehensive win over the world No 7 Argentine Del Potro in 66 minutes to duplicate his Kooyong title from 2011.
The Australian raced through the opening set in 27 minutes, reaching a 3-1 lead after just 16 minutes. He finished off the set on a first set point as Del Potro fired a forehand long.
Del Potro made a stab at a rally in the second set, breaking Hewitt for 3-4 at one point and levelling at 4-all soon after.
But Hewitt stayed in control, moving to 5-4 and finishing a game later on a second match point, a stinging forehand return winner.
Tomas Berdych lifted his game to claim third place through a 6-3, 6-2 win over Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, winning in just under an hour.
The performance was a vast improvement for the sixth-ranked Czech after losing in straight sets to Hewitt earlier in the week.
Hewitt said that he will pick and choose his tennis shots on the ATP this season, with his 32nd birthday coming in February.
"I don't know how much I'll play this year, I have the family to look after as well. My priorities are the Davis Cup, I'll choose my events around the ties," he said.
"The Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open are where I have my best chances to go deep in the draw. The rankings are not important to me."
Hewitt said the tournament had provided a major boost.
"I felt like in every match this week, I got better and better and gained more confidence. Every ball today felt like it was coming off the middle of the racquet," he said.
"I felt sharp, moved well. It was a good start out there. I'm not surprised at how well I'm playing. I've been training and hitting well and I'm playing as cleanly as I have in a long time."
Results on the fourth day of the Kooyong Classic on Saturday:
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) bt Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 6-1, 6-4
Playoff for third place
Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-2