Two Times US Open champion and Davis Cup captain, Pat Rafter, is back at the Australian Open, coming out of retirement at age 41 to play doubles with Lleyton Hewitt.
It’s more than a decade since Rafter played doubles at Rod Laver Arena, in his final tour match, alongside Hewitt, and the duo have been granted a wildcard entry.
Hewitt, 32, says he approached his friend and mentor some time ago to revive their old partnership. Rafter still plays in the seniors tour, recently beating Goran Ivanisevic and Tim Henman.
While there was concern about whether Rafter was eligible to play, it turns out he was not officially retired. “I thought I was. Do you have to sign something that says you’re officially retired?” he said at a pre-tournament press conference.
The duo said their entry was “just a bit of fun” with Rafter declaring “I’ll be definitely the worst player in the competition out there”, adding that his friends are sending him text messages saying “Can you please work on your returns?”.
They meet Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasenm in the first round and if successful, face the top seeds, the Bryan brothers, in the third round.
Hewitt ruled out the pair taking on France in Davis Cup doubles next month.
The Australian Open gets underway today, with a number of Australians, including 17th seed Sam Stosur, playing opening round matches this afternoon.
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