Lleyton Hewitt's 'awkward' win keeps career alive

LLEYTON Hewitt has described his victory over fellow countryman James Duckworth as "really awkward''  after trying to help the youngster out with his game.

Hewitt defeated Duckworth in straight sets in the first round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

The former world number one, who was ranked 308 heading into the event, thrilled the Rod Laver Arena crowd with his 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 129th-ranked Duckworth,

The 34-year-old, who will retire after the open, will meet eighth seed David Ferrer in the second round.

Hewitt admitted it had been a struggle to prepare mentally knowing the match against Duckworth could be his final appearance.

"A tough situation, to try and block out everything else that is going on," Hewitt said in a courtside interview.

"It's not like the last round of the football season where you know after that match, this is the end. For me, I try to prepare as much the same as normal.

"Obviously playing Ducks, who I've tried to help out, that was really awkward. I just came out here and tried to stay in the moment as much as possible. I think I blocked it out pretty well."

Hewitt later praised Duckworth in his media conference. "I was impressed with how he played tonight," he said.

"He didn't have too many dips in the three sets, which was important for him. The aim was to try and make as many balls as possible."


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