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While Hewitt prepares for his 16th Australian Open, the 38th-ranked Australian Bernard Tomic is heading into his fourth. Tomic was 5 when Hewitt began his professional career.

The promising 19-year-old is attracting most of the attention from the local media in the buildup to this year’s Open, especially after winning the recent Kooyong exhibition.

Tomic has a tough opening-round match, facing 24th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

“When I’m on the tennis court, I don’t think about anything, except trying to win,” said Tomic, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year.


BIRTHDAY BRIT: British player Laura Robson doesn’t turn 18 until Saturday. But she’s already celebrating after qualifying for the Australian Open for the first time.

Robson, who was born in Melbourne, is one of six British players in the men’s and women’s draws _ the highest since 1992. The 134th-ranked Robson plays No. 13 Jelena Jankovic in the first round.

British journalists packed a tiny interview room to hear her speak, although she wasn’t about to let the attention go to her head.

“I think there’s a lot of British journalists here because of Andy (Murray), not for me, really, and I’m just sort of an add-along,” she said. “But it’s great that there’s some interest there, and I don’t know how I feel, really. It’s something that I’ve gotten used to over the years.”

The attention doesn’t just come from the media. Robson said she’s already had an early birthday present from an admirer.

“This young guy, he gave me a cookbook, which obviously I love, and a necklace with an L on it,” she said. “His name was Peter. He’s from Australia. I’m going to find out his full name so I can send him a thank-you note.”