David Ferrer produced a solid performance to end Lleyton Hewitt’s men’s singles career, defeating the Australian in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.
Hewitt and His Fans Initially Not Filled With Hope
Both players were edgy at the start of the match, making more errors off of their groundstrokes than they would like. Hewitt saved a break point in the opening game following a tough 16 shot rally, but a low first serve percentage came back to bite him in the fifth game after a missed backhand gifted Ferrer the first break of serve.
Another error in his following service game resulted in a double break, leaving the eighth seed serving for the first set. Hewitt came up with the shots to bring up his first couple of break point opportunities, but an ace from the Spaniard, one of four in the match overall, helped to snuff out the chance.
A few more first serves led to missed returns from the Australian, marking the loss of five games in a row as the eighth seed secured the first set 6-2.
Rusty Digs In
It was definitely not the start that Hewitt wanted, the opening set seemed to have sucked the life out of the Rod Laver Arena crowd. The former world number one held on and resisted the Spaniard’s pressure, saving two break points in the opening game. He also recovered from 15-30 down on serve in the next game to hang on and keep his nose in front.
A Pivotal Few Games
The key moments in the match all occurred from games five to eight, making it an enthralling watch. In the fifth game Ferrer finally made the breakthrough he had been searching for and followed it up with a comprehensive service hold to love to take a 4-2 lead.
At this point, it then looked to be all over as Hewitt found himself 15-40 down again on serve. Timely first serves, which he only made 50 percent of in the match, helped him to save the break points. A 24 stroke rally, the longest of the match, pushed Hewitt back to deuce after earning a first chance to hold. It was Ferrer who let the Australian off of the hook, making errors to allow the 2005 runner-up here to escape with the service hold.
The following game proved to be pivotal but at first looked likely to be a fairly comfortable service hold for the eighth seed as two game points came and went. Hewitt sensed the moment and opportunity to get back into the set, fighting back and forth from deuce to advantage as seven break points agonizingly passed him by, leaving the home crowd exasperated.
It was the Spanish terrier who produced brutal tennis when his back was against the wall, eventually breaking the two-time Grand Slam champion’s defenses down to secure a crucial hold. From there Ferrer did not look back, closing out the second set on his next service game 6-4.
Hewitt’s Last Hoorah
The Australian was presented with the scenario that this was likely to be his final set as a professional tennis player in the men’s singles. The crowd could sense the inevitability at this stage as Hewitt was broken once again in the third game, with the Spaniard extending his lead to 3-1. An 18 shot rally presented the chance for a double break, a virtual match point for the two time semifinalist in Melbourne. With his back against the wall, Rusty saved the break point with a backhand winner and raced to 0-40 on Ferrer’s service game to finally get the break he had thoroughly deserved, 3-3, game on.
The Final Chapter
The comeback was to be short lived as Ferrer stepped up the intensity, breaking immediately to take a 5-3 lead. Hewitt held serve to force the Spaniard to serve for the match and he duly obliged, completing the 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win in two hours and 32 minutes.
Ferrer will go on to face the American Steve Johnson in the third round after a fantastic performance. However, most of the congratulations need to go to the Australian on a remarkable career. He gave it is all and stayed for a very warm reception and an on court interview on Rod Laver Arena following the match.
Hewitt is the personification of maximizing potential.