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Hewitt hires Roche

Sydney: Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt has enlisted the services of celebrated coach Tony Roche in his bid to regain the men’s tennis top ranking.

Roche, who formerly coached Roger Federer, Pat Rafter and Ivan Lendl, announced on Wednesday his next task would be to help restore the fortunes of fellow Australian Hewitt.

Roche will accompany Hewitt to all ATP Grand Slam tournaments, as well as the majority of the Masters Series events, for the rest of this year and 2008.

Got game

Roche, who split with Federer two weeks before this year’s French Open, believes Hewitt still has what it takes to win Grand Slams and regain the world’s No.1 ranking. “That’s the goal ... I think we’ve got to shoot for the top,” said Roche, who will first help Hewitt prepare for next month’s U.S. Open. “I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t think Lleyton had a chance of winning a Grand Slam.”

Tough road ahead

Hewitt spent two years atop the ATP world rankings in 2001 and 2002, winning both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open during that time. But he has been unable to add a third major title in the years since.

“A lot has happened since then — he’s got married, he’s got a family and I think right now he’s ready to challenge for the No.1 spot again,” said Roche. Hewitt, presently ranked 21st in the world, has been without a fulltime coach since splitting with Roger Rasheed in January.

Real big goal

Roche said winning the Australian Open would be the “real big goal” and believes Hewitt only needs to make minor changes to his game.

“I just think a little bit more variety,” he said.

“Not so predictable and also a little bit more aggressive. Also we’ll be doing a lot of work on the serve.”

Hewitt, who first worked with Roche as a teenager in the Davis Cup, said he is excited at the prospect of working with him again.

“It’s not going to be easy but ... I think (Roche) has got a lot of things to offer me, we both know what I need to do to get to the top of the game again and I’m looking forward to doing it,” he said. — AP

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