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Melbourne – Lleyton Hewitt won his second title at the AAMI Classic at Kooyong club on Saturday, defeating good friend Juan Del Potro 6-1, 6-4.
The victory matched Hewitt's 2011 title at the eight-man pre-Australian Open event, taking just 66 minutes as the 31-year-old Aussie dominated with the form that took him to number one in the world more than a decade ago and led him to Wimbledon and US Open titles.
The win puts Hewitt in good stead for his Open start, where he faces Serb eighth-seed Janko Tipsarevic.
“Juan Martin is a fantastic competitor,” said Hewitt. “He's one of my best mates on the tour. We always train together.
“He's one of the best and I'm sure it won't be long before he's pushing at the top three or four in the world,” Hewitt said of the former top five-ranked winner of the US open four years ago.
Hewitt also thanked Kooyong, home of the Open until 1988, for its role in staging the event for the 25th time.
“This is the home of Australian tennis, there have been so many great Davis Cup ties played here. And I've enjoyed working here on rehab after my many surgeries.”
The father of three is a year removed from a second toe operation, which finally allowed him to play without pain and concentrate on his game.
Hewitt ruled the first set, racing away to 3-1 on the first 16
minutes and collecting the opener in less than half an hour.
Del Potro, whose Kooyong matches comprised his entire Open preparation after arriving from Argentina a week ago, made a stand in the second set that was snuffed out by Hewitt after the Aussie lost serve in the seventh game but eventually earned the victory with a break-back in the final game.
Hewitt finished on his second match point with a forehand return winner, a classic of his battling game.
He goes to Melbourne Park with high confidence after beating three top 15 players this week at the tune-up: Canadian Milos Raonic, Czech Tomas Berdych and Del Potro.
Berdych won the third-place playoff, defeating Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-3 in just under an hour.
Berdych said he turned his game around after losing to Hewitt this week and complaining of not feeling his game.
“It's good to get in a match before Monday, everything in your game is important at this point,” said the Czech. “I've rediscovered my game again, I think I found it today. I had a good training on Friday, things worked well for me.”
Berdych needed four match points to finally put away 2006
Melbourne Park finalist Baghdatis, with the Cypriot driving a ball into the net to end the contest. – Sapa-dpa