Stosur digging a hole: Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt at the Kooyong Classic media conferance on Tuesday.
Lleyton Hewitt at the Kooyong Classic media conferance on Tuesday.

IT WAS Lleyton Hewitt's tone, rather than strictly his words, that revealed his doubts that struggling Australian No. 1 Sam Stosur can yet make an impact at next week's Australian Open.

''Oh, it's hard to say at the moment,'' he said, his meaning quite clear. ''She obviously hasn't had the two best weeks, and whether the ankle surgery, whatever, is holding her back as well on the practice court, I really don't know that. It's hard enough looking after my body and my mind, let alone someone else's.''

Stosur's first-round loss to Zheng Jie at the Sydney International on Monday night completed a winless lead-in to the Australian Open, where the 2011 US Open champion will be seeded ninth.

Where Hewitt, the 2005 runner-up, and Bernard Tomic thrive in the illuminated environment of home, Stosur almost seems to shrivel in the intense glare.

However much the 28-year-old said she was more pleased with her performance against Zheng than her straight-sets exit in Brisbane, Stosur is a momentum player, and momentum is in painfully short supply.

Can she turn it around? ''I don't know,'' Hewitt said. ''She's sort of digging a bigger hole for herself, I guess, and putting more pressure and expectation on herself every time she goes out there, and it's a matter of going out there and enjoying it.

''Bernie and I are in somewhat the same situation where we both really enjoy being … under the spotlight in our home country, where Sam's obviously struggled a little bit and played her best tennis … where she's not quite under the same spotlight as here.

''But sometimes I think it's within your personality a lot more, as well on the court, and maybe she's slightly different to Bernie and myself.''

This story Stosur digging a hole: Hewitt first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.