In their early meetings, Lleyton Hewitt had the advantage over the fellow young gun Roger Federer. Facing each other for the first time in Lyon 1999, Hewitt knew how to tame the rival’s shots and impose his game, winning seven of their first nine encounters.
In the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final, Lleyton came from two sets to love down against Roger in Melbourne to seal the deal for Australia, with two rivals meeting on the same court in the Australian Open fourth round next January.
Seeking his first notable result at the Australian Open, Federer took down Alex Bogomolov Jr., Jeff Morrison and Todd Reid in the opening three rounds, dropping 20 games in nine sets and hoping to end Lleyton’s dream of winning the home Major.
Leaving that tough Davis Cup defeat behind him, Federer toppled the Aussie 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes to advance to his first Australian Open quarter-final. Blasting 14 aces, Roger erased six out of seven break chances to keep his serve safe after an early setback that cost him the opener.
He dominated the rest of the clash to march into the last eight and remain on the title course. Hewitt had the upper hand in the first set, but that was all we saw from him, as he got broken five times from 13 opportunities offered to Roger.
Federer had three times more winners than Hewitt, spraying more errors but doing enough to control the pace from the second set and arrange the quarter-final meeting with David Nalbandian. Roger had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, and he followed Lleyton’s numbers in the most advanced rallies to seal the deal in style.
From 40-15 in the first game, Federer lost four straight points to suffer a break and give Hewitt an early momentum.
At the Australian Open 2004, Roger Federer defeated Lleyton Hewitt in four sets.
The Aussie fended off two break chances in the next game to confirm the break, barely losing a point on serve in the rest of the set and taking it 6-4.
Roger survived a break chance at the beginning of the second set to avoid the same scenario and clinched four consecutive points in game six for a break and a 4-2 advantage. The Swiss saved a break chance a few minutes later to remain in front and erased a couple more at 5-3 to grab the set and level the overall score.
The third set turned out to be a disaster for the home favorite, getting broken in the first game after being 40-15 in front and experiencing two more breaks to allow Roger to serve a bagel and gain a massive boost. The Swiss earned a crucial boost break at 2-2 in the fourth set and fended off a break chance in the tenth game to move over the top with a smash winner and deliver the third win over Lleyton.
“I took good things from my previous encounters against Lleyton, although we have not played that much since I entered the top-10. I played better than him this time, but I do not know what made the difference. I was not happy when he won the opening set; I knew it would be tough to come back from a set down against him.
I was not serving well, and I had to change that; I started playing better and better in sets two and three. I was aggressive, and despite not a great serving display, it was enough for the triumph. I’m delighted to come back from a set down.
I was chasing the lines too much initially, letting him take control and doing all the running. I needed some time to feel the way around, and he took advantage of that early break. This is my revenge for the Davis Cup and a big moment for my career,” Roger Federer said.