Federer overcomes Hewitt
Federer battled into the final of the Cincinnati Masters to face American James Blake for the 50th ATP title of his career.sports Updated: Aug 19, 2007 16:07 IST
Top seed Roger Federer battled into the final of the Cincinnati Masters here to face American James Blake for the 50th ATP title of his career.
The Swiss world number one triumphed Saturday as Australian Lleyton Hewitt saved three match points before falling 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-1).
Number nine seed Blake put out Russian fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-4, ending with a screaming cross-court winner.
Blake lost to Federer for the sixth time without a win in November 2006 in Shanghai.
"He's been the best in world last few years," said Blake, who pulled out last week in Montreal with an abdominal injury.
"He has an excellent record in finals. But if I'm in the final it shows that I'm playing great. I think I have a chance."
It took a surge from Federer in the third-set tiebreaker to secure his 11th straight win over Hewitt and reach a 13-7 career head-to-head mark.
Federer, winner of 11 Grand Slam titles, had his troubles in the two-hour 35-minute battle during which he served 18 aces, produced 46 winners and 36 unforced errors and broke Hewitt's service three times.
"I needed those aces. It was good to get some freebies once in awhile. He is so aggressive, and this is a quick court," said Federer.
He came out on top after three straight breaks of serve in the first set to lead 3-1 but needed four set points to close out the opener against the Australian, who won the US Open and Wimbledon titles before the recent slump.
"This was a classic match. It's always tough stuff between us," said Federer, 44-6 this season with four titles. "Playing Lleyton makes me nervous. He makes you miss so much, I'm happy to to escape with this win."
The unseeded Hewitt's performance could secure him a seeding in the last Grand Slam event of the year, the US Open starting Aug 27, as he rises toward the top 16. He saved a first match point late in the second-set tie-break before levelling on his own second set point.
The third set remained equally tight, with breaks in the fifth and sixth games before Federer tore through the decider and claimed the nervy victory on the first of five fresh match points.
"I played some big points on my serve to get out of trouble," said Hewitt.
"But all in all, he served well in the big serve games. That's why he's one of greatest players ever. He can pull the trigger on the big points and nine times out of 10 it comes off.
"It was a lot closer today than last week," said Hewitt. "In the end I battled away to get into the (final-set) tiebreaker but played a couple of loose points early."
He has felt himself getting "better and better" with each match.
"If I keep giving opponents like Roger trouble, sooner or later it will fall my way. In the last two weeks, I couldn't have asked for better preparation for the US Open. It's taken the best guy in the world to knock me off."
The 2005 Cincinnati winner, Federer is keen to crack the career 50-win mark after being denied a week earlier by Novak Djokovic in the Montreal final.
"To earn my 50th would be really special," said Federer, aiming for a fourth consecutive US Open title. "I just missed it last week by three or four points. I'll give everything I have to get it here."
First Published: Aug 19, 2007 16:04 IST