LLEYTON HEWITT has stamped himself an Australian Open dangerman by winning his second Kooyong Classic.
The 31-year-old said he could not remember the last time he had moved so well on court as he crushed Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4.
The victory sent out a clear warning to his Australian Open rivals, especially world No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, who Hewitt meets in the first round.
While he will concentrate on the majors and the Davis Cup this year, Hewitt said he was confident he could return to the world top 15 if he committed to a full schedule.
''I felt like every match I got better and better and more confident,'' Hewitt said of his week.
''Especially my ball striking - I felt it was really coming out of the middle of the racquet from the word go.
''I moved really well and I felt sharp out there, which is a good sign. I hit the ball as well as I have in a long time.''
He upset top-ranked players in del Potro, Czech Tomas Berdych and Canadian Milos Raonic last week.
''It just gives me confidence that [I played] three of the biggest servers and I was on their serves for a lot of it this week, which for me is a big sign of where I am,'' he said.
''On second serves I was putting a lot of pressure on their service games - so for those big servers, if they are missing their first serves, at least they know I'm going to jump on it and do something with it.
''That was one of the most pleasing things this week,'' he said.
Hewitt opens his campaign on Monday night against Tipsarevic, with the Serb under a cloud with a hand injury after pulling out of the Kooyong event.
''He's a quality player and he's improved a lot in the last two years,'' Hewitt said.
''It's going to be a tough match but I'll be ready for it. It's nice to know that in the back of your mind you've done all the right preparation to just go out there and play.''
From the start of the final, Hewitt displayed vintage form, baffling del Potro with his sharp serving and line-splitting returns.
The Australian broke serve at will, surging through the first set in just 27 minutes with three breaks and taking the key break in the final game.
Hewitt also won the Kooyong tournament in 2011.
Meanwhile, Russian Elena Vesnina has broken through for her first WTA title in her seventh final, downing defending champion Mona Barthel 6-3, 6-4 at the Hobart International.
The 26-year-old world No.68 showed too much fight for the inconsistent defending champion Barthel, whose occasional smoking winners were undone by a service game that let her down badly.
The loss ended a 12-match winning streak in Hobart after world No.32 Barthel had to qualify before winning the title last year.
Vesnina, who was ranked as high as No.22, in 2009, becomes the second Russian to win the event after Anna Chakvetadze in 2007 and takes home $US40,000 ($37,900) in prizemoney.
She ousted seeds Yaroslava Shvedova and Sloane Stephens, as well as Australian wildcard and former champ Jarmila Gajdosova, on her way to the final.
Barthel was broken in the first game of the match and, although she broke back for 2-2, her inconsistency allowed the tenacious Vesnina to break twice more.
The Russian converted her first set point to take the set in 35 minutes.