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Hewitt says fitness improving ahead of Davis quarters

Written by: Staff

LAS VEGAS, Mar 4 (Reuters) Lleyton Hewitt provided some welcome news for Australia ahead of their Davis Cup quarter-final against Belarus, saying his fitness was improving and that he feels he can give the team a boost.

The world number 10 had declared himself unavailable for the first-round tie with Switzerland citing an ankle injury but then played a tournament in the United States. He then threatened not to play against Belarus.

''I'm going to play,'' Hewitt told reporters at the Tennis Channel Open.

''I feel fit with my ankle and my body is feeling a lot better.

It's not going to be an easy tie, but hopefully I can strengthen up for it.

''During San Jose I was still worried about my ankle and unsure whether I could continue through all these tournaments and Miami.'' Hewitt has won more Davis Cup singles matches for Australia than any other player.

''I wasn't going to fully commit to playing until I saw how my body held up. Now I feel good and feel I can give something extra to the team.'' The former world number one has said he was angry with Australian tennis officials, claiming they were not doing enough to help local players. He also lashed out after Australian Open organisers refused to meet his demands to prepare the courts to suit his game.

However, Hewitt's comments that the Davis Cup was no longer his top priority touched a raw nerve in his homeland, where the men's team tournament is still revered.

The April 7-9 tie at Kooyong in Melbourne will be played on Rebound Ace, the same surface that is employed at the Australian Open, which Hewitt claims is too slow.

''They can't rip it up and put something else down but a medium pace would be fair to everyone,'' he added.'' REUTERS SC KN0922

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