Lleyton Hewitt has sprung a major upset in defeating long-time adversary Roger Federer to take out the Brisbane International on Sunday.
In what was the 27th career meeting between the pair, Hewitt played some vintage tennis to claim his ninth win. The Aussie veteran taking the final in three sets, 6-1 4-6 6-3, much to the delight of the home crowd.
It was Hewitt's first title since Halle 2010 – when he also beat Federer in the final and the 29th of his career. The 32-year-old's latest triumph coming sixteen years after his maiden title in Adelaide as a relatively unknown teenager.
The unseeded Hewitt jumped out of the blocks, dropping just a solitary game in the opening set as Federer made an uncharacteristic 22 unforced errors to his opponent's three.
The Swiss champion showed his class to square the ledger in the second. Federer fought off a break point to make it 4-4 and then broke Hewitt's serve after he led 40-0. The 17-time grand slam champion was able to serve out the set and force a decider.
Remarkably it was Hewitt's turn to show his fighting qualities in the opening to the third, the Aussie saving four break-points to hold serve, before breaking Federer to jump to a 3-1 lead.
Despite being challenged throughout the set, games remained on serve and Hewitt was able to close it out 6-3 to take the final in a touch over two hours.
“For the first set I was seeing the ball like a football. Didn't really matter where he served, I was on it,” Hewitt said. “I felt great out there.”
“It just gives me a lot more confidence going out there believing in how well I'm hitting the ball at the moment and that I can match up with the best guys."
Following his win in Brisbane, Hewitt has chosen to withdraw from the Kooyong Classic, opting not to contest the round-robin event he won last year to focus his attention on an 18th tilt at the Australian Open.
Instead Hewitt will face Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in an exhibition on Friday at the Melbourne event and is confident of doing well at the year's first grand slam if given a favourable draw.
“Obviously this week is all about preparation for the Australian Open and getting yourself in as good a nick as possible,” Hewitt said.
“The last four days playing, four tough matches in a row – I've got to do the right thing by my body and what's best for me to go out and play the biggest tournament of the year in my country.”
Hewitt will enter the Australian Open as our highest ranked Aussie, having jumped to No.43 in the world on the back of his win.
You can catch all the action from Melbourne Park on the big screen in the clubhouse at Strathfield Sports Club, with play set to get under way on Monday.
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