Lleyton Hewitt has ignored recurring foot pain to launch his US hardcourt campaign with a straight-sets win at the ATP Atlanta Tennis Championships.
Hewitt won an impressive 89 per cent of his first-serve points (25 of 28) as he defeated American qualifier Phillip Simmonds in a 6-4 6-4.
He was joined in the second round by Davis Cup teammate Marinko Matosevic, who showed the benefits of his cup debut in Australia’s win against China as he upset No.6 seed Igor Kunitsyn 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 to record only his second ATP Tour win.
Almost a decade after he beat Pete Sampras to win the US Open title,Hewitt, 30, finds himself in very different circumstances to those of 2001 as he prepares for the final grand slam of the tennis season.
Hewitt, now the world No.174 and attempting to battle back yet again from injury problems, was playing just his 15th match on the ATP Tour.
And his season at the grand slams has been a bust – recording a first-round exit to David Nalbandian at the Australian Open, an injury-enforced withdrawal before the French Open, and second round defeat by Robin Soderling at Wimbledon.
Hewitt is still playing with considerable soreness, but at least he no longer needs painkillers or injections to reduce inflammation.