Hewitt grinds down Federer to claim Brisbane title

Sun Jan 5, 2014 6:28am EST
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By Ciaran Baynes

BRISBANE (Reuters) - Roger Federer's hopes of starting the year with a long-overdue title ended in failure on Sunday when the Swiss was beaten by local hero Lleyton Hewitt in the Brisbane International final.

The 17-times grand slam champion, who won the last of his 77 titles last June, was beaten 6-1 4-6 6-3 by a typically gutsy Hewitt who ended a more than three-year title drought.

World number six Federer, who had led their rivalry 18-8 before the final, looked to have turned the match his way after recovering from a slow start but Hewitt showed responded to claim the title in a little over two hours.

"To beat possibly the greatest player in the final means a lot," Hewitt said. "It's not an easy tournament to win.

"In the first set I was seeing the ball like a football. Didn't really matter where he served I was on it."

Federer had seven break points in the third set but failed to convert any of them as Hewitt ended a 15-match losing run against his fellow 32-year-old.

Despite the disappointment Federer remained hopeful for this month's Australian Open.

"I was able to sort of serve better overall, more consistent this week than I have in a long time - so that's very good," Federer, who had not dropped serve before the final, said.   Continued...

Lleyton Hewitt of Australia lunges for the ball during his men's final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Brisbane International tennis tournament January 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed