After losing 16 of their last 17 matches dating back to 2003, Lleyton Hewitt overcame Roger Federer in 3 sets to win the 2014 Brisbane International. The title is Hewitt’s first since June, 2010, when he managed that solitary win against Federer in the last decade. It also ensures his highest ranking since October, 2010 (he should rise from 60 to the early 40s).
What a fantastic way to start the year for Lleyton. He won 6-1 4-6 6-3 after having already turned back Kei Nishikori and Deliciano earlier in the week. Turning 33 next month, he doesn’t have many more years left on tour. Perhaps all the time he’s missed in recent years due to injury have allowed him a bit of borrowed time to make one last successful go of it.
As for Federer, this title appeared gift wrapped and a perfect confidence boost heading into the year’s first Grand Slam. Yet, this loss is emblematic of the Federer’s returns in recent times - losing matches that would normally seem like no contests.
It’s the confounding number of errors that keep doing him in - he misses shots now that he never did previously. Tommy Robredo was able to beat Federer at the U.S. Open after years of futility, and now Hewitt continues the trend of players being able to finally solve the Federer riddle.
This result adds another wrinkle in the Federer plot line heading into the 2014 season. How we determine success is such a fickle business - on the one hand Roger made the final, but is his good work this week undercut by not being able to win a final in which he was so heavily favoured?
Onward to the Australian Open! This week has been a perfect start to the tennis year with so many great matches and big names making great initial steps toward successful campaigns.
P.S. That was a master class in giving a victory speech, mercy!