Federer, Hewitt to clash in Brisbane final; Will resume their long-standing rivalry

Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt will resume one of the oldest rivalries in tennis when they contest the Brisbane International final on Sunday.

Federer leads their Head to Head series 18-8 as the pair prepares to face off for the 27th time. The Swiss won their last meeting in four sets in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs in Sydney in 2011, but Hewitt won a year earlier when they clashed in the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, snapping a 15-match losing streak against Federer.

“You want to play against the best players, and obviously Roger and I have a good history and a lot of tough matches in the past in Grand Slams and Davis Cups and everything,” said Hewitt. “He's been great obviously for this tournament and ticket sales and promoting tennis in Australia again. I'm going to enjoy it.”

The 32-year-old Federer defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3, following Hewitt’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over World No. 17 Kei Nishikori in temperatures topping 40 degrees at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

Federer broke the Chardy in the second game of the match, taking a 2-0 lead which he maintained to take the set. Neither of the players managed to score a break in the second set and it was Chardy who eventually claimed the set in the tiebreak (3-7). Federer fired 20 aces and secured another break towards the end of the decider, taking a 5-3 lead and then wrapping up the victory on his serve to love.

Federer is chasing his 78th tour-level title, which would seem him move to standalone third in the all-time title leaders list; he is currently tied with John McEnroe. The Basel native needed just under two hours to defeat Chardy in their first meeting.

Hewitt is through to a tour-level final on home soil for the first time since the 2005 Australian Open, where he finished runner-up to Marat Safin. He is unbeaten in nine semi-finals Down Under. The two-time Grand Slam champion will look to win his 29th tour-level title on Sunday.

Federer was denied the chance to contest the doubles final. He and Nicolas Mahut were beaten by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(5), 6-3. Fourth seeds Cabal and Farah will challenge for their first ATP World Tour team title when they face Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Daniel Nestor in the final. The second seeds, who are playing together for the first time this week, defeated third seeds Jamie Murray and John Peers 7-5, 7-6(5).

"I'm really looking forward to it"

“We go back 17 years, our coaches back in the day were best friends," Federer said. It's amazing we have a chance to play in Australia, our first time in a final here I think.

“My rivalry with Lleyton was pretty intense - never nasty or anything, but just good matches. We're total opposite from one another the way we play.  I play with the one‑handed backhand; he plays his double‑handed. His attitude on court is totally different to mine. I think that's why it's always an interesting match-up for both of us.

“I don't play many guys who are older than me or my age,” said Federer. Even though there are quite a few guys around who are hanging on. I think we're both really looking forward to it.”

Federer has already contested six matches this week - three singles and three doubles - with his new bigger-headed racquet. “Right now, I’m very happy how it's feeling,” he admitted. “I've been able to put a lot of the hours on the racquet in practice and now in matches, so that's very important.”

Despite losing in the doubles semi-finals with Nicolas Mahut, the Swiss is happy with the time he has spent on the court.

“In the first week of the season, Federer said, “I think most important thing is to play enough matches. Number two is physically holding up, surviving the shock. You can train as much as you want, but it's never like the match. I’m not saying that the match is tougher, it's just different because you're going to stretch for that extra ball here and there. When you're doing fitness and training you're going much harder overall.

“It's been a good week so far, and I hope can play a good final tomorrow. I look forward to that final with Lleyton… We know each other very well, so both of us will find our groove and know what to expect from one another.

“The moment I don't play great, he will be there to take it, especially on a quick court like here.”

Hewitt's thoughts:

“We’re the same age, we grew up together, we have a lot of respect,” said Hewitt when questioned about the possibility of playing Federer in Sunday’s final.

“He’s had ties to Australian people as coaches, so I’ve known him really well. He’s a great guy and obviously I have the utmost respect for him not just as a player but what he does off the court as well.

“I look forward to the challenge if he does get up this afternoon and tomorrow’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Date: 4th January 2014, Source: ATP and Brisbane


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