Brisbane: Roger Federer’s hopes of starting the year with a long-overdue title ended in failure on Sunday when the Swiss was beaten by Lleyton Hewitt in the Brisbane International final.
The 17-times Grand Slam champion, who won the last of his 77 titles last June, was beaten 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 by a typically gutsy Hewitt who ended a more than three-year title drought.
World No. 6 Federer, who had led their rivalry 18-8 before the final, looked to have turned the match his way after recovering from a slow start but Hewitt showed responded to claim the title in a little over two hours.
“To beat possibly the greatest player in the final means a lot,” Hewitt said. “It’s not an easy tournament to win.
“In the first set I was seeing the ball like a football. Didn't really matter where he served I was on it.”
Federer had seven break points in the third set but failed to convert any of them as Hewitt ended a 15-match losing run against his fellow 32-year-old.
Despite the disappointment Federer remained hopeful for this month’s Australian Open.
“I was able to sort of serve better overall, more consistent this week than I have in a long time — so that’s very good,” Federer, who had not dropped serve before the final, said. “I definitely needed a little bit more confidence to play well and hopefully win the tournament and so forth.”
“I have a clear idea what I need to work on and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is at.”
Federer can scarcely have opened a match in worse touch. He hit 22 unforced errors in the first set. (Reuters)