Queen’s Club typically brings out the best in Lleyton Hewitt and the Australian veteran will look to give his Wimbledon preparations a boost with another strong showing this week.
The 33-year-old heads a healthy Australian contingent at the prestigious men’s grass court tournament in London, starting on Monday, with Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic also lining up.
A four-time champion at the prestigious ATP event – including winning three straight titles between 2000 and 2002 – Hewitt made an impressive run to the semi-finals last year.
He beat third seed Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals before falling to Croatian Marin Cilic, setting the Australian up for a first-round upset win of Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka at Wimbledon.
Australian Open champion Wawrinka is the top seed this year in a strong Queen’s field that also includes Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
World No.46 Hewitt will open his campaign against Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver and he’ll also play in doubles alongside Chris Guccione.
The veteran wasn’t overly concerned by a first-round loss at last month’s French Open, feeling like he is fully fit and hitting the ball well.
“The grass, preparing for Wimbledon, and then obviously the US hard courts leading into the US Open is where I’d like to play my best tennis,” Hewitt said.
Tomic, looking to rebound from a heavy first-round defeat at Roland Garros as he continues to recovery from hip surgery, drew American Tim Smyczek while Matosevic landed a tough first-round assignment against 2012 champion Cilic.
Meanwhile, Australia’s women will also ramp up their Wimbledon build-up this week with Samantha Stosur and Casey Dellacqua competing on grass in Birmingham.
Stosur, who reached the fourth round of the French Open before falling to eventual champion Maria Sharapova, has a first-round bye as the second seed behind Ana Ivanovic while Dellacqua faces Urszula Radwanska in the first round.