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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hewitt rolls back years to beat fifth seed

Hewitt pumped up

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Photo Titled Hewitt pumped up
Lleyton Hewitt fired up on Centre Court against Juan Martin Del Potro.

Lleyton Hewitt, moving and roaring as if the last seven years had never happened, scored perhaps his finest win at The Championships since becoming the champion in 2002 as he crushed Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-5 7-5 in two hours 32 minutes .

The 20-year-old Del Potro, seeded fifth which meant he was theoretically lined up for a semi-final spot following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, never looked like subduing the Australian attack dog - the only male representative from his country at a tournament once dominated by great players from Down Under.

Hewitt simply carried on where he had left off in his first round destruction of Robby Ginepri, serving beautifully - there were 14 aces - and offering his opponent a devastating lesson in how to move on grass. Del Potro's second round exit was his third in succession at Wimbledon and opens up the top half of the draw even more to Andy Murray's advantage.

With the vastly experienced coach and fellow Australian Tony Roche helping him, as he does at all Grand Slams these days, Hewitt was provided with an extra boost, not that he appeared in need of any. "Feisty" is the description normally associated with Lleyton, and he was at his aggressive best for this Little versus Large confrontation with the 6ft 6in Argentine. Offering loud extra support was a large contingent of Australian supporters in their green-and-gold national colours.

Meanwhile the taciturn Del Potro, who had been dubbed "Del Boy" by the Hewitt fans, was struggling to unearth the kind of form which has sent him zooming up the rankings in the past 12 months.

He was not helped by Hewitt's full-out attacking plan, developed over many years of grass court play though, fortunately, Hewitt's defences were as solid as his aggressive intentions as he fought off four break points in the fifth game and another two in the seventh.

In the process of hauling himself out of trouble in that fifth game Hewitt unleashed his famous roar of "C'mon" several times, the first one virtually in Del Potro's face after an exchange of volleys. None of this helped Del Potro's peace of mind, which was further under pressure following an awkward fall which required brief treatment on his right knee at the end of the first set.

Del Potro's power off the ground usually ensured he emerged on top of any protracted rallies but whenever Hewitt hustled it was a different story. He built on that break of serve and when it came to clinching the opening set Hewitt's play was exemplary, three successive aces to close it out in 45 minutes.

Could Hewitt keep it up in the heat, though, at the age of 28 and battling his way back up the rankings after last year's hip operation?

To the delight of the green-and-gold brigade, the immediate answer was a resounding “yes”. Pumping out the aces on a regular basis, Hewitt kept pace with Del Potro through the first 10 games of the second set before striking again to break for a 6-5 lead.

Though his first serve promptly deserted him and he faced his seventh break point of the match, the Australian closed out the set with the assistance of some embarrassing errors from his opponent, culminating in a backhand struck well wide. Another massive "C'mon" and it was two sets to Hewitt after an hour and 35 minutes.

Now Lleyton had the giant on his knees and he tightened the screw even more by breaking again at the start of the third set.

The only wobble came when he served for the match and failed to make it, losing his delivery for the only time in the match. Typically, he bounced right back, broke Del Potro to lead 6-5 and this time closed it out, albeit nervously. But if the winner was visibly chuffed, he was looking dangerously puffed.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - 2nd Round
Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (5)355
Lleyton Hewitt AUS Winner677

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