Australian Open 2012: Lleyton Hewitt No Longer Carrying Australia's Burden

Lleyton Hewitt has had a long, illustrious career as one of Australia's biggest standouts in the tennis world. He has not won a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon in 2002, however. Though Hewitt can look to Bernard Tomic to carry Australia's torch, he is still preparing for the 2012 Australian Open as if he is still the world's No. 1-ranked tennis player.

"(It is) not that different," Hewitt said. "When I come to grand slams, or the big tournaments anyway, you're sort of in your own bubble a little bit. You're not worried about the outside talk or what it's really about. You're doing everything in your power just to be as ready as possible.

"We've done everything we can to obviously get my body and ball striking and everything in as good a nick as possible and it would have been the same 10 years ago."

Hewitt will have to face Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the opening round of the tournament. The young German is still a relatively unknown in tennis, ranked just No. 83 in the world heading into the Australian Open. He has only played in one major ever--last year's Wimbledon--giving Hewitt little to prepare for.

"I (have) never played him. Never hit with him," Hewitt said.

"I found out a bit about him just speaking to a few people, looking into a few things. That's the good thing about playing over five sets, it gives you a little bit of time to work your opponent out."

For more on Hewitt and the 2012 Australian Open, be sure to stick to SB Nation Tennis.

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