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Hewitt accepts wildcard

HOUSTON, March 23 – Defending champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia will make his return from a right hip operation in January at next month's ATP US Clay Court Championships, the ATP Tour announced Monday.Former world number one Hewitt has accepted a wild-card entry into the April 5-11 event at River Oaks Country Club.

"Im really looking forward to returning to defend my title in Houston," said Hewitt. "I couldnt think of a better place to come back on to the Tour after an injury."

Hewitt suffered the injury while playing in the Hopman Cup in early January and underwent surgery in Hobart to repair a torn labrum after a fourth-round loss to Swiss star Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

Hewitt, ranked 24th by the ATP, underwent a similar operation on his left hip two years ago.

Last year, Hewitt rolled to the title without losing a set. This time, he hopes to become the first back-to-back champion since American Andy Roddick in 2001 and 2002.

"When we got the call that Lleyton was progressing faster than expected on his recovery, we were very pleased to offer him a wild card," said Clay Courts director Van Barry. "We look forward to him coming back."

Hewitt is fourth among active ATP players with 27 career titles, including the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon titles.

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