Adidas Internation News (2005)
Hewitt returns to court victory
By RAY KERSHLER
October 19, 2004
TENACIOUS Lleyton Hewitt will headline the stars at the Sydney International tournament in January next year – the same tournament which kick-started his 2004 revival in the world rankings.
Hewitt was in a slump and seeded No. 7 last year before he arrived in Sydney and went on to win, the beginning of a glorious comeback to the top ranks.
Hewitt's ranking had slumped as low as 19 before his victory in Sydney, but after his Sydney win over Carlos Moya he went on to make four finals in major events, including the final of the US Open.
His victories have lifted him to a current ranking of No. 3 in the world.
As 2004 draws to a conclusion, Hewitt is still battling away at the ratings list, hoping to grab the No. 2 position from American Andy Roddick.
Hewitt has never lost a match at the Homebush Bay courts of the Sydney International Tennis Centre where the Sydney International is played, bar a loss during the Olympic Games.
He has entered three tournaments – 2000, 2001 and 2004 and won them all.
As integral a part of an Australian summer as cicadas and bushfires, the Sydney International tournament will again become a stage for many of the world's stars, including current women's No. 1 player Lindsay Davenport.
Officials yesterday released preliminary details of entrants this year for the $1.4 million tournament, confirming that defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and French star Amelie Mauresmo will join Davenport at the top of the women's seeds.
Henin-Hardenne has taken an extended break from tennis to try to shake off the lingering effects of a post-viral syndrome.
But she is desperately keen to return to Australia.
Mark Philippoussis and Tommy Haas have agreed to compete in the men's section with officials hopeful the Spaniards, Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero, will also join the field by the time entries close.
Once again the cut-off for the women's tournament is extremely tough and expected to be in the low 20s of the world rankings.
The cut-off for the men is expected to be high 30s or low 40s as the world stars take advantage of the positioning of the Sydney International, immediately prior (January 9-15) to the first grand slam tournament of the new year, the 2005 Australian Open.
Davenport, one of the most consistent women's players in history, is a regular in Sydney but she's never arrived before as the world No. 1.
The ever-changing face of women's tennis is evident as Davenport, the winner of seven titles so far this year, heads up a field including Mauresmo, Henin-Hardenne and two Russian women, Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
That Myskina is the French Open winner and Kuznetsova, the US Open champ, just shows how tough the competition is at the top of women's tennis.
That, too, is acknowledged by the division of prizemoney for the Sydney International – with the women receiving in excess of $132,000 while the men receive $74,000 plus.
The Sydney International is the only tournament on the world circuit where women play alongside men and receive more money.
In two grand slam events, the US and Australian Opens, the prizemoney is equal while the men get more money in the French and at Wimbledon.
While entries for the tournamentdo not close until the first week of December, officials yesterday were delighted at the initial expressions of interest in an historic event once known as the NSW Open, which was first played in 1885.
"Every year the tournament has grown to be biggerand better and this January's tournament will confirm that tradition," tournament director Craig Watson said yesterday.
"As an example, the 2004 tournament was rated among the three strongest fields on the circuit outside of the grand slams, which certainly augurs well for 2005.
"The Sydney International is must-see sport and in 2005 will celebrate its 120th year, which also makes it one of the oldest events on the entire circuit.
"As in 2004, our aim for 2005 is to create a festive atmosphere to allow the whole family to enjoy a great day and/or evening at the tennis.
"The Sydney International is probably the best value tennis tournament anywhere in the world and we are looking forward to breaking attendance records during the week."
With the likes of Hewitt in the men's draw and the top six world-ranked women, putting people in seats won't be a problem.
Queen Vee, Super Rena, Krazy Kuzzie