sport

Hewitt cools retirement talk

Australian Lleyton Hewitt has no plans to retire next year and is already looking ahead to the 2014 Australian Open.

The former world number one said he felt fresh both mentally and physically after overcoming a foot injury that threatened to end his career.

Asked whether his appearance at the Australian Open in January would be his last, the 31-year-old said: "I seriously doubt it.

"I'd say I'll be back again. I'm playing all next year. I can't see myself getting to the Paris indoors and not the Australian Open a month later."

Hewitt was speaking at a promotion for the AAMI Classic, which he will use as part of his preparations for the opening grand slam of 2013 at Melbourne Park.

The 2005 Australian Open finalist said he had not set any targets for the tournament, but was hopeful of a favourable draw.

"I'm not putting results on the table or goals to get to certain rounds," the world number 78 added.

"I've had some rough draws in the past. Hopefully I can ease myself back into the Australian Open.

"Brisbane, I'm playing at for the first time, and then coming here to Kooyong, where I've always played well whether it's the AAMI Classic or the Davis Cup."

Hewitt, who went down to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round at Melbourne Park this year, battled through a Davis Cup tie against China two weeks later before undergoing surgery on a troublesome toe.

He returned to action at the French Open in May and said a recent victory over Argentinian world number 12 Juan Monaco at the Valencia Open had lifted his spirits.

"I didn't know exactly how I was going to bounce back from the surgery," Hewitt said.

"It was such a major surgery that no other athlete has had it and tried to come back and play competitive sport again. There were a lot of unknowns for me.

"By the end of the year I played some really good tennis and knocked off a couple of top 30 players. That gave me a lot of confidence that I can still go out and match it with the best players in the world."

Hewitt said he felt no pain in his foot, but was at a loss to explain what motivates him to continue playing.

"I don't know. Maybe I just love punishment," he said.

"Davis Cup and grand slams are still the priority for me. In terms of grand slams, the Australian Open and Wimbledon are the two that I love playing and mean the most to me.

"When I finally do stop they're the two tournaments I'll miss for sure, but at the moment I'm still hungry to go out there and do the hard work. I enjoy it.

"I guess when you bounce back from five surgeries in the last four years, I feel ready to go out there and compete."