| Hewitt: Hopes to get fourth time lucky
London: Lleyton Hewitt will warm up for the defence of his Wimbledon crown with a bid for a record fourth straight title at Queen’s Club, the traditional curtain-raiser to the sport’s biggest tournament.
Victory in the June 9 to 15 Stella Artois tournament will see Hewitt join John McEnroe and Boris Becker as a four-times winner but he will be the first to do it in successive years.
Hewitt completed his hattrick with a three set win over Tim Henman last year before going on to win Wimbledon for the first time.
“It would be a tremendous honour to win the Stella Artois for a fourth consecutive year,” said the World No. 1, an ever-present at Queen’s since turning pro in 1998.
Henman, who has lost to the Australian in the final in each of the past two years, is hoping successful shoulder surgery in November will help him buck his losing trend.
“It will be great to get back on the grass at the Stella Artois — it’s the 25th anniversary of the tournament and one I really want to win, said Henman.
“I’ve been to the final three times before and I want to go one further.
It won’t be easy though because Hewitt will want a fourth title and the rest of the field is always so strong,” Henman said.
His compatriot Greg Rusedski has also signalled his intention to play in the tournament after an injury-hit year.
Other stars set to grace the Queen’s grass include 1997 winner Mark Philippoussis, former US Open champion Marat Safin, 2002 Wimbledon semi-finalist Xavier Malisse, and the two men widely regarded as the future of American tennis: Andy Roddick and James Blake.
Asian No. 1 Paradorn Srichaphan, now tenth in the ATP champions race, will also be there and will be hopeful of making an impact after demonstrating his ability on grass by knocking Andre Agassi out of Wimbledon.
The Thai has since moved into the upper echelons of men’s tennis with titles in Long Island, Stockholm and Chennai.