Lleyton Hewitt's nightmare run with grand slam draws has continued with the luckless former champion pitted against French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Wimbledon first round.
While 20th-seeded countryman Bernard Tomic should win his opener against Belgian David Goffin, Hewitt will be a rank outsider to knock over Tsonga, who last year at Wimbledon became the first man in history to defeat Roger Federer from two sets down at a grand slam.
Hewitt has played just two competitive matches since undergoing toe surgery in February but would have given himself a chance of a decent grasscourt run with a helpful draw.
Alas, his incredible record of striking the world's premier players in the opening round at the majors continues.
A defiant Tomic insists Australia's Wimbledon outlook is not all doom and gloom despite an utterly bleak build-up for the country's three best hopes.
Tomic, a quarter-finalist last year as a qualifier, Hewitt and women's world number five Samantha Stosur all failed to win a match in their grasscourt lead-up events.
The star trio succumbed to players ranked outside the top 50 and, in Stosur's sorry case, to the world number 251.
Compounding concerns, Tomic is also in a fitness battle after being struck down by an untimely virus that robbed him of vital conditioning and court time ahead of his assault on the greatest prize in tennis.
Rather than dwell on what might have been, the teenage ace is putting a positive spin on proceedings.
"Sam lost, and Lleyton, and I was a bit sick in Halle," Tomic said after his 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 loss to Italian claycourter Fabio Fognini at Eastbourne on Wednesday.
"But in one way it could be good that you're getting that before a major.
"You want to play well before the four majors but, if you play bad, also it's a sign of something to work on before the actual major starts and that's the important bit.
"So we'll see ... this is where it started for me. This tournament made my tennis, made me into the top 100, and I'll always look back to it as that.
"When Monday or Tuesday comes, I'll be ready ... I'm feeling like I can do well again."
Hewitt lost his only competitive grasscourt outing at Queen's to towering Ivo Karlovic, the Croatian who spectacularly eliminated Australia's defending champion at the All England club nine years ago.
Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, has modest expectations after nine years of poor returns on the London lawns, but also with a nothing-to-lose approach following her first-round losses in 2010-11.
Australia's leading threesome will have a support cast of six - Matt Ebden and debutant Marinko Matosevic in the men's event plus Jarmila Gajdosova, Anastasia Rodionova, Casey Dellacqua and 16-year-old junior girls' champion Ashleigh Barty in the ladies singles.
AAPTags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom First posted June 22, 2012 20:01:34