| Lleyton Hewitt celebrates his semi-final win over Roger Federer in the Masters Cup in Shanghai Saturday. (AFP)
Shanghai, Nov. 16 (Reuters): Lleyton Hewitt turned in a magnificent performance on Saturday to sink Switzerland’s Roger Federer and reach the final of the ATP Masters Cup.
The match will go down as a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 victory in the record books but the figures do no justice to one of the performances of the season from a man crowned year-end world No. 1 two days ago.
Never has the Australian fought harder. The man for whom industry and determination are oxygen to his lungs simply refused to lose.
In the face of stupendous hitting and ferocious firepower from his opponent Hewitt stood firm, treating vicious serves with venom. The harder Federer hit the ball, the faster Hewitt ran.
Certainly Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero — Hewitt’s opponent in Sunday’s final after he beat Carlos Moya in the first semi-final — will have plenty to think about overnight.
Federer was rocked at losing the opening set after having so many break points and being a break ahead and he dropped his opening serve of the second set.
But the Swiss buckled down to work, snatching a break back for 3-3 when Hewitt double-faulted on break point. He repaid the favour a game later, double-faulting at break point, and never recovered.
Hewitt was all fist pumps and “c’mons” as he raced towards the line, but Federer saved a match point while trailing 4-5, broke back and then broke again, clinching the set on his fourth set point 7-5.
Only Hewitt’s monumental will to win carried him through the decider as Federer continued to fire on all cylinders. In the end he could not break down the world No. 1 who clinched victory on his fourth match point.
Ferrero, a semi-finalist last year, reached his first Masters final in a quieter way but he too was forced to fight, eventually triumpheing 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-4 over fellow-Spaniard Carlos Moya.
Ferrero grabbed a 4-2 lead and the 22-year-old looked to be heading for the set when he clubbed a high forehand away for a 5-2 lead. But Moya broke back two games later when Ferrero double faulted and taking him to a tie-break.
Stung by having let the set slip from his grasp, Ferrero punched his way through Moya’s defences in the opening game of the second set, before both players held serve throughout to allow Ferrero to win the set 6-4 and level matters.
At 2-2 in the decider, Moya was called on to save two break points and he obliged, once with a second serve ace. At 3-3 he fell 0-40 behind, saved the first and second with forehand winners but on the third, an exquisitely guided forehand pass across his body left him floundering and gave Ferrero one foot in the final.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Ferrero faltered with a double fault. But when Moya clipped the net with to hand Ferrero match point, the latterseized his moment, caressing a deft drop volley just over the net which the scrambling Moya could not scoop up.