on July 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Federer trumps Hewitt to march on

LONDON (Reuters) – Roger Federer came out on top in the battle of the Wimbledon champions when he trumped Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals on Monday.

Australian Hewitt, the only men’s winner in the draw other than five-times champion Federer, kept the Swiss on his toes during a tight first set.

Once Federer had bagged the tiebreak 9-7 with a 195 kph thunderbolt ace, he ran Hewitt ragged on a sun-drenched Centre Court and chalked up his 63rd consecutive win on grass with an unreturnable serve.

“I served well, it was important (to do that) against Lleyton. But I’d also say Lleyton struggled a bit with his hip,” said Federer, who unleashed 21 aces during the one hour 49 minute contest.

Hewitt, who earned and lost eight break points, concurred.

“He served extremely well today. Any quarter chances that I did get, I didn’t have them for long,” said the former world number one, who has now not won a title for 16 months.

“He hit every line out there with his serve today. That’s why he’s the best player going around, especially on this surface. Serve is so important. He hit the target every time.”

After navigating past one tricky opponent, Federer will face another in the next round when he comes up against Croatia’s Mario Ancic, the last man to beat the top seed on turf in the first round here in 2002.

The 27-year-old Hewitt, struggling with a hip injury, had hoped to profit from some inside information since his coach Tony Roche had been in Federer’s camp until 13 months ago.

But his challenge fizzled after an engaging first set in which he traded an assortment of bewitching volleys and groundstrokes with the Swiss maestro.

Neither player earned a break point during the opening set, but as he has done many times in the past, Federer saved his best arsenal for the tiebreak.

SKIDDING DELIVERY

After giving Hewitt some false hope by trading a string of mini-breaks, Federer narrowed his eyes and fired down a skidding delivery — his ninth of the set — to slam the door shut after 49 minutes.

The vocal Australian contingent of fans tried to lift their man with cries of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi’ but soon fell silent as Hewitt fell 4-0 behind in the second set.

Two games later, the Australian earned his first break point of the match, only to be thwarted by a ferocious kicking serve.

He stretched the top seed to break points in three successive games but the outcome was the same each time — Federer would come up with the big serves to wipe out any hopes of a Hewitt fightback.

In the third set the Australian slipped behind the baseline and ended up on his knees to surrender his serve and hand Federer a 2-1 advantage.

That was enough for Federer to close out the match and remain on course for a modern-era record of six successive men’s titles.

By reaching the quarter-finals without dropping a set in this year’s event, the Swiss not only grabbed a 12th successive win over the Australian but also ensured he would keep the world number one ranking when the new list is published next Monday.