Hewitt set to serve up his best at Open

JUST a few weeks shy of his 33rd birthday, Aussie battler Lleyton Hewitt wants to wring everything he can out of his career before the weight of a lifetime of battles wears him down.

Today he returns to the arena he loves more than any other, ready to take on Italian Andreas Seppi on the centre court at the Australian Open.

Hewitt will equal the record of 18 appearances at the Open, held by Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, and after beating Roger Federer in the final of the Brisbane International earlier this month, said he would have no excuses against the 24th seed.

"I feel pretty good. As good as I could have hoped for," the South Australian said.

"There was a period there I had to battle injuries just to get out there on the court here as well.

"That's the pleasing thing and why I'm feeling mentally fresh and pretty good, because I did spend quite a bit of those chunks of those three or four years off the court."

While Hewitt says he feels good about his game, he faces a tough section of the draw.

If he manages to get through the first two rounds, he faces a potential third-round clash against Japan's Kei Nishikori.

The Aussie might fancy his chances of another upset there because he beat the No.17 seed in the semi-finals in Brisbane.

That could be the end of the road however, with top seed Rafael Nadal likely to be the fourth-round opponent.

If he misses out in the singles, Hewitt always has he doubles to fall back on after announcing he would partner Australia's Davis Cup captain, 41-year-old Pat Rafter, in the doubles.

The pair has received a wildcard and will take on American Eric Butorac and South Africa's Raven Klaasen in the first round later in the week.

Meanwhile, Nadal starts his campaign tonight against another Aussie, Bernard Tomic.

After a stunning year in 2013, Nadal is aiming to become the first male player in the open era - and only the third man in history - to win each of the four grand slams twice.

Australian legends Roy Emerson and Rod Laver are the only players to have won each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.

Six other Australians - Marinko Matosevic, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, James Duckworth, Storm Sanders and Olivia Rogowska are in action today.

Matosevic will be bidding to win a first round match at a grand slam for the first time in 12 appearances when he takes on Nishikori first up on an outside court at the Open.

Krygios will play German Benjamin Becker, Duckworth meets Federer, Kokkinakis has drawn Dutchman Igor Sijsling, Sanders will take on Italy's Camila Giorgi and Rogowska faces Colombia's Mariana Duque-Marino.

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