A pumped Lleyton Hewitt battles into second round at Brisbane International

THE fist pump was back, so too the dogged determination, as Lleyton Hewitt kickstarted his Australian summer with a fighting first round win at the Brisbane International.

The former world No.1 displayed all the guts that has been the hallmark of his career as he overcame fellow 31-year-old, Russian world No.162 Igor Kunitsyn, 6-3 4-6 6-2 in just over two hours.

Hewitt dominated the early exchanges with complete control on serve and two service breaks to take the first set in just 38 minutes.

It was Hewitt’s first match since October, but he rarely looked troubled or rusty as he appeared in cruise control to a straight sets canter.

But just one slip in concentration by Hewitt and Kunitsyn secured a break in the ninth game and then served out the set to send the match down to the wire.

However this is when Hewitt’s tenacity comes to the fore and with a few stunning shots, including a wonderful stretching volley, the fired up Australian was ahead 4-1 and within sight of the finish line.

Hewitt brought up two match points on Kunitsyn’s serve at 5-2, sealing the victory on the second attempt on a Russian error.

It’s been a difficult few years for Hewitt with a persistent foot injury restricting his ability to play consistent matches and as such his ranking plummeted to No.233 last July.

But the former US Open and Wimbledon champion climbed back to No.83 by year-end and with a full fitness regime and trouble-free preparation he is confident of some big scalps this month.

Hewitt had been drawn to play Czech Radek Stepanek, but he withdrew yesterday with a right eye infection and was replaced by Kunitsyn.

Hewitt will play Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in the second round tomorrow, after the world No.43 shocked eighth seed Martin Klizan 6-1 6-2 yesterday.

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