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Hewitt levels Hopman tie for Australia

Lleyton Hewitt added to his reputation as tennis' iron man when he ignored a severe fever to keep Australia's Hopman Cup hopes alive.

The world No.1 levelled Australia's tie with Argentina at 1-1 with a straight sets 6-3 6-4 victory over Mariano Zabaleta at Perth's Burswood Dome.


Hewitt started sluggishly and was broken in his first service game before he hit the accelerator and raced through the remainder of the match without dropping serve.


He looked pale after the 80 minute encounter but immediately stated his determination to secure the tie for Australia with victory in the mixed doubles.

"I don't feel great, that's no secret," said Hewitt, who received treatment from a doctor in the morning after falling ill overnight.

"But I had to come out here and play well for Australia."

The Adelaide 20-year-old's toughness, which is considered one of the major strengths that swept him to the number one ranking last year on the heels of his breakthrough US Open victory, was severely tested against the fleet footed Zabaleta.

Tournament director Paul McNamee admitted surprise at Hewitt's performance, given the condition he was in when he arrived at the Dome this morning.

"Put it this way, there are players who wouldn't have played if they were in the same shape," he said.

Hewitt's victory squared the ledger for Australia after fellow South Australian Alicia Molik's narrow three sets 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4 loss to Paola Suarez earlier in the day.

Suarez struggled with Molik's powerful serve in the first set, but took control in the tie break when the Adelaide 20-year-old struggled to return serve.

Molik fought back in the second to win 6-3 but in the third, Suarez broke her serve in the third game before trading service games to win the match.

Should Australia win the tie, it would face in-form Spanish duo Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Tommy Robredo in a play-off for a finals berth

AAP