Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt has been awarded a wild card to play at next month's Australian Open.

Persistent injuries have seen Hewitt drop to 188th in the rankings, meaning the former Wimbledon and US Open champion would have had to qualify for the tournament or be awarded a wild card.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said 30-year-old Hewitt deserved to be awarded the wild card.

"Lleyton is a former world number one, twice a grand slam champion and Australia's most successful Davis Cup player," Tiley said.

"He reached the Australian Open final in 2005 and his passion and commitment to the game is second to none. We are delighted to offer him a wild card for 2012.

"Lleyton has had some bad luck with injury recently, which has seen his ranking drop, but he has proved time and time again he can never be discounted, particularly in a big match. We look forward to welcoming him to the Australian Open in January."

The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on 16 January.