Hewitt topples del Potro with vintage display
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:36
Lleyton Hewitt rolled back the years on Centre Court, beating Juan Martin del Potro in three highly entertaining sets 6-3 7-5 7-5.
Hewitt, the last man to win the title before Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, will now be favourite to reach the quarter-finals from the section of the draw vacated by the absent world No.1. He faces German opposition in the third round in the form of either Philipp Petzschner or Mischa Zverev.
After a cagey start from both men on another sweltering days at SW19, it was the former champion who took the early chances as del Potro struggled to work his way into the match, breaking in game six and consolidating for a 5-2 lead, before wrapping up the set with a love service game two games later.
Hewitt provided a timely reminder of just how dangerous he can be against an opponent that feeds him pace, regularly putting the Argentine on the back foot with his block returns, and stretching him with short, low balls – and reaching virtually everything that del Potro had to offer.
He had left the world No.5 in a sprawled heap midway through the set after sending him the wrong way with a forehand winner, and the world No.5 received treatment to his right knee at the end of the set.
In game three of the second set the Australian hit a drop shot so sweet that del Potro had to hurdle the net after failing to reach it, catching the ball in the process and handing it back to Hewitt, before fiddling with the net winch on his way back.
Hewitt momentarily went off the boil as the business end of the second approached, but del Potro couldn’t capitalise and was made to pay in game twelve, netting twice to hand the Australian the break, and although Hewitt nearly fluffed his lines a game later, he eventually served out to secure a two-set lead.
Del Potro failed to regain his composure during the interval to prevent Hewitt breaking for a second successive time and handing the initiative to the world No.56.
Playing catch-up thorughout the set, the French Open semi-finalist continued to look dangerous and began landing his forehand drives for winners more often than he had in either of the two previous sets.
Hewitt’s service games were proving to be a battle of nerves, and although the Aussie held on to serve for the match at 5-4, the No.5 seed made him pay for a number of missed first serves and broke back.
But Hewitt responded in kind, breaking straight back to once more serve for a place in the third round, and made no mistake with his second chance to serve out the match, collapsing to his knees when del Potro’s final return drifted long.
“I haven’t beaten anyone in the top five for a while, so I was up for today’s match,” Hewitt said. “I’ve played some big matches here in the past and this was only second round, but Juan Martin’s a hell of a player and he’s only going to get better on grass.
“I played really well and had a great game plan, apart from a little lapse when he came up with some big shots, but all in all I was able to do it.”
Hewitt was full of praise for his boisterous supporters on Centre Court, many painted head to toe in green and gold.
“I appreciate the crowd,” he added. “I love playing in London, it’s great fun for me and it’s good to be back in the third round.”