Sport24.co.za | Returning Hewitt wins doubles opener at Estoril

Sport24.co.za | Returning Hewitt wins doubles opener at Estoril
Sport24.co.za | Returning Hewitt wins doubles opener at Estoril

Estoril - Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt combined perfectly with teenage talent Alex de Minaur on Tuesday as the one-off doubles pairing knocked the second seeds out in the opening round at the Estoril Open.

The ad-hoc Australian combination overwhelmed South African Raven Klaasen and New Zealand's Michael Venus, with the seeds exiting 6-4, 6-4 in 66 minutes on the clay.

Venus won the doubles title here a year ago alongside Ryan Harrison, with whom he also claimed the 2017 French Open title.

But two-time Grand Slam champion Hewitt, 37, made a winning start to the week alongside his 19-year-old partner.

"Even though I know Alex extremely well, this was our first time playing together," Hewitt said. "We've never even done that in practice.

"For me, it was a thrill and for Alex it's his first ATP doubles win, it was fun."

Australian Davis Cup captain Hewitt, who said he never officially retired from doubles, is expecting to play more ATP events before the end of the season.

He and Sam Groth reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in January.

"This was a dream come true," De Minaur said. "I've watched Lleyton play so much, but to be on the same side of the net is incredible.

"It's insane how he hits the ball.

"I wanted to give a good level, I was nervous at the start. I'm happy we got the win, I'll never forget this day."

Hewitt drew immediate comparisons between himself and the young gun, saying: "We're similar in a lot of ways, the high energy, the never-say-die attitude, always giving 100 percent.

"It's enjoyable to watch the growth in Alex, he's like a sponge, taking in everything to make himself a better player."

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