After this year's thirty-something dominated Australian Open was dubbed the 'throwback slam', it was revealed on Thursday that the 2018 tournament will play host to another old-stager.
Lleyton Hewitt, the former world No 1 and Wimbledon champion, has announced that aged 36 he will be playing the men's doubles event in Melbourne with fellow Aussie Sam Groth.
Hewitt retired as a player at the Australian in 2016, but he has still remained heavily involved in tennis. As well as captaining the Australian Davis Cup team, Hewitt picked up his racket to partner John Peers against the Bryan brothers in a Davis Cup doubles rubber last March and then entered the Wimbledon doubles event three months later.
Hewitt said of his latest comeback: “It’s going to be a bit of fun - that’s what the Australian Open is about.
“I’m going to really enjoy it. We’ve been hitting a lot of balls, hitting every day, and we’re not just going out there making up the numbers. We want to give it a fair crack.”
Hewitt and Groth have played doubles together previously at grand slams and in the Davis Cup, including an epic five-set defeat to Andy and Jamie Murray two years ago.
Groth, who will quit tennis himself after the Australian Open aged just 30, said: “It’s something Lleyton and I have talked about and it’s perfect for me
“I was there when ‘Rusty’ retired in 2016 and it’s great that he’ll be there with me when I bow out.
“He’s not just someone I know through tennis, he’s a great mate.”
Hewitt's return means he will have missed just one Australian Open in 22 tournaments, having made his debut in 1997 aged just 15. And given he has found quitting tennis an almost impossible task, it would be no surprise if he made another comeback in 2019.
The Australian Open, which is the first grand slam of the year, gets under way in Melbourne on Monday January 15.