Roger Federer’s troubles continue. Today the Swiss faced longtime pidgeon Lleyton Hewitt for the Halle Gerry Weber Open title on the grass in Halle. But all the numbers in the world weren’t enough as it was Hewitt stunning Federer 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.
Federer had come into the final having won 15 straight matches over Hewitt. Federer was also victorious 29 straight times in Halle amounting to 5 titles and he had won 76 of his last 77 matches. But it was the Aussie’s day to finally shine in the end.
“It’s fantastic. Roger’s a hell of an opponent; his grass-court record speaks for itself,” said Hewitt after his first win over Federer since September 2003. “Any time you play Roger on a grass court you know you’re in for a hell of a battle and I was lucky to get out of today’s match.”
Hewitt was in deep trouble midway through the match with Federer ahead a set and with three break chances at 4-4 in the second set. But Hewitt kept fighting taking the second set in a break, then securing an early break on Federer to start the third.
“It’s fantastic for me; I’m getting towards the end of my career and had couple of surgeries, to know I can still compete at this level. I’m thrilled to be here and to have won another title,” Hewitt added. “The tournament’s been fantastic; Roger’s obviously come here all of his career, it’s a fantastic atmosphere. I’ll be back next year.”
Hewitt remains a perfect 7-0 career in grass court finals, and that includes the 2002 Wimbledon title.
For Federer, more question marks.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” spun Federer. “It’s unfortunate not coming through today, but I think my level of play is fine. This loss here doesn’t worry me in any way. So, I’m excited about next week. And I thought it was a good tournament.”
Well Roger, “fine” use to work. It doesn’t anymore. Since his Cincinnati win last August, Federer has just one title – the Australian Open – and zero ATP (non-Slam) wins. Zero! And he’s losing to guys he use to dominate – Soderling, Davydenko and now Hewitt.
And while we saw ominous signs ahead of the French Open, could this be foreshadow of what may come at Wimbledon next week? Is the dam ready to break for the soon-to-be 29-year-old? Perhaps.
As for Hewitt, you have to credit the Australian who’s been left for dead on more than one occasion. Hewitt’s endured the new techonolgy, the bigger and stronger players and multiple serious injuries most recently a hip surgery, and here he is still playing good ball.
“For me, I don’t cut any corners,” Hewitt said. “It would have been easy just to turn up and not have the surgery and say it’s too hard to get back and retire there. But I still feel like I’m a good enough player to compete with these guys. It was a matter of getting my body in as good as shape as possible.”
I wrote yesterday that’s Lleyton’s quietly had a good year. Well, now he’s making some noise again.
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