One is a late bloomer and the other is the youngest ever No.1, but both Janko Tipsarevic and Lleyton Hewitt are desperate to win Monday night’s clash.
As a precocious teenage talent, Hewitt raced up the rankings like a solid gold hit up the Billboard charts.
In comparison, Tipsarevic’s rise was anything but. More like a tune that grows on you the more you hear it than catchy commercial fodder, Tipsarevic’s journey to the top 10 took time.
But at the age of 28, ‘Tipsy’ is in the form of his life. The Serbian No.2 has won all four of his ATP titles in the past two years, including one this year in Chennai. Hewitt, in comparison, hasn’t won an ATP title since 2010 and claimed the bulk of his silverware between 2000 and 2004.
Hewitt did, however, win the invitational Kooyong Classic last week, turning in a performance that gave a nod to the Adelaide native’s glory years. He showed an attacking instinct that has, in recent years, not been as prevalent as some commentators would like.
Separated by three years and more than 70 rankings spots, Monday night’s clash between these two looks to be a no-brainer on paper, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
The pair has met five times in their careers, and it’s Hewitt who holds a 3-1 advantage, which includes a Davis Cup rubber. But don’t be fooled – the Australian may own the head-to-head but these two haven’t played since 2009, and Tipsarevic is a far superior product these days.
“I haven't played him for a few years now but he's improved a bit in the last couple years obviously to get in the top 10,” said Hewitt.
They have played a five-set match once – in a Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie in Serbia, which Hewitt won. Most, including Pat Cash, are expecting this match to go the distance.
"Tipsarevic will be looking at that and thinking, 'Oh, it is going to be a long day'," Cash said.
"Lleyton can beat ‘Tipsy’ [but] he is a very tough customer."
And Hewitt agrees.
“It's going to be a tough match obviously over five sets,” Hewitt said.
“I feel like all I can control is my preparation and doing all the right things. I've done absolutely everything in my power. I look forward to the challenge.”