January 25, 2010 in Tennis
Did anyone seriously expect a different result?
For the 15th consecutive time, Roger Federer has ripped the hearts out of the Australian public by annihilating Lleyton Hewitt - 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 – in the fourth round of the 2010 Australian Open.
On the same day Sam Stosur was handed a similar fate by Serena Williams (6-4, 6-2) on the women’s side. A day before Australia Day.
You have to hand it to Hewitt though. Despite not having beaten Federer since the 2003 Davis Cup, every single time he faces the man he talks it up as though he has a legitimate chance. And the amazing thing is that every time, he has us believing it, even if it’s just for a split second.
There was a glimmer of hope in their latest match when Hewitt finally broke (back) Federer’s serve in the eighth game of the third set. But Federer broke again immediately and sealed the match with ease.
The fact is – no matter how hard he fights, no matter how tough he is mentally – the physical gap between Hewitt and the top players of today is just too much. He is still capable of cruising through the mid-tier players and beating the lower top-tier players. Once in a blue moon, he could even beat a top top-tier player if mitigating circumstances are present (eg injury). But in a grand slam event, Hewitt will need all the stars aligned to ever get close to winning again.
Nevertheless, even though he was just handed another drubbing, Hewitt is optimistic as he is returning to the top 20 in the ATP rankings.
“Obviously I’ve been able to work my ranking back up. I feel good about that. I don’t have a lot of points to defend really through to Wimbledon, the quarters there. So I feel comfortable I can do some damage. The way I hit the ball tonight, I still think I could have taken a lot of other guys still left in the draw. That’s probably a little bit more frustrating.”
I think this is why, despite his less-than-ideal personality, Aussies still want to support him. No matter how ridiculous his assertions sound (I mean, come on, does anyone think Hewitt can still beat the likes to Djokovic, Del Potro or Murray, let alone Federer and Nadal?), we want to believe Hewitt because he seems to honestly believe in himself. And that’s an admirable trait.
Besides, who else are we going to support? Bernard Tomic?