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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hewitt tops the winners on Day 4

Photo Titled Hewitt victory
Lleyton Hewitt salutes the crowd after his thrilling victory over 5th seed Juan Martin Del Potro.
Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt have a lot in common. That both were victorious on Wimbledon Day 4 is just a minor thing. If Murray can become a Wimbledon winner like Hewitt, it would be a major thing.

Murray and Hewitt are the sole representatives in the men’s draw of Britain and Australia, respectively; two proud tennis nations with a shared history, both in the grip of a talent crunch.

They have been on the wrong side of public opinion in their homelands, they have said things when they were younger they probably regret and now, here they are, both on the brink of being loved. Most importantly, however, both are winners.

Murray's 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Ernests Gulbis was a surprise to no one. The tale of the tape told the story: Murray was the world No.3 and Gulbis the world 74; Murray had won 12 career titles and Gulbis none; the Scot had beaten him in their two previous encounters.

But even those statistics could not prepare Gulbis for an opponent who made just five unforced errors and won 88% of points on his first serve. Gulbis had just one game on Murray’s serve where he could have broken the Scot – needless to say, he did not.

"I didn't make many mistakes from the ground," Murray said. "When I did get myself into a point on his service game I made him work very hard for the points. I finished points when I was inside the court. I finished points off really well. I didn't make any basic errors, so it was very good."

Hewitt's 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 over Juan Martin Del Potro was more surprising. Del Potro was eight years younger, 18cm taller, 51 places higher in the world rankings and he had not undergone hip surgery last year, but Hewitt, by his own admission, produced his best tennis in four years. And Hewitt’s best tennis has won him two Grand Slams among 27 career titles.

"I wanted to beat a top five guy," Hewitt said. "These are the places you want to do it, too. It was a lot of fun being out there. I guess, I was kind of the underdog out there a little bit as well.

"I know what Andy Murray's going through, though. He's got a good head on his shoulders, though. To me, he handles it extremely well. I thought Tim Henman handled it unbelievably well, as well. I think you're lucky you had a guy like Tim and now you got a guy like Andy that can handle the pressure and the expectation."

In the women's draw, every seed who played today won. Defending champion Venus Williams beat Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 6-2. Williams hit 20 winners to Bondarenko’s seven and the Ukrainian did not even get a chance to break the Williams serve.

Top seed Dinara Safina also denied her opponent the opportunity to break her serve as she won 6-3, 7-5 against Rossana De Los Rios. Safina hit 27 winners.

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