Hewitt the centurion at his fist-pumping best for fight with Djokovic

Gritty Australian, the only current player with over 100 wins on grass, continues his renaissance with demolition of Monfils

There are not many grass-court records that do not belong to Roger Federer, but Lleyton Hewitt is defending one of them with his usual tenacity.

The Australian has won more grass-court matches than any other current player and reached a century of victories earlier this week. Victory No 101 followed here yesterday as Hewitt beat France's Gaël Monfils 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 to earn a fourth-round encounter with Novak Djokovic.

Hewitt has not won a Grand Slam title since he added the 2002 Wimbledon crown to his US Open victory the previous year. He has not reached a Grand Slam semi-final since 2005.

When Hewitt had surgery on his right hip after this year's Australian Open some might have wondered whether he would ever challenge again at the highest level, but the 29-year-old's performance in the pre-Wimbledon grass-court event at Halle strengthened his conviction that he still has it in him to compete with the best. His victory over Roger Federer in the Halle final gave the world No 26 his first title for more than a year and inflicted only the second grass-court defeat on the Swiss since 2002.

Hewitt had lost his last two matches to Monfils, who also had the benefit of a coach, Roger Rasheed, who used to work with his opponent. The 23-year-old Frenchman, the world No 20, is a wonderful athlete, but in Hewitt he was facing one of the game's grass-court masters.

Even when he got into trouble, Hewitt retained his self-belief. Serving in the second set at 5-6 and 30-30, having just dumped a lame forehand into the net, he charged forward and hit an exquisite forehand volley winner after Monfils had pounded a big backhand down the line. Monfils' missed forehand then took the set into a tie-break, in which both men made a succession of errors. When the younger man served at 9-10, another superb low volley gave Hewitt the set, which he celebrated with a vigorous display of fist-pumping.

Monfils fought back from an early break in the third set, but Hewitt broke again at 4-5 to take the match. At 0-15 he won a superb point with a half-volley down the line, at 0-30 a big backhand cross-court winner set up match point and at 0-40 Monfils double-faulted to send Hewitt into the fourth round here for the seventh year in succession.

"I feel good at the moment," the Australian said afterwards. "It was always going to be a tough match. He's flashy, like most French guys. He's got a lot of firepower out there. He moves well. Obviously, grass takes away a little bit of his movement, but in terms of his serve he hits all the spots extremely well. That's what makes it tough on a grass court. I felt like I played well out there today. I played smart tennis."

Asked about his fist-pumping after winning the second set tie-break, Hewitt said: "That's who I am. You can't buy that. That's my personality coming out on the court. I've always played with my heart on my sleeve. It doesn't matter what the situation is. If I'm up for the fight, then it's going to show at the right times."

Djokovic, who crushed the Spanish clay-courter Albert Montañes 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, has beaten Hewitt in their last three meetings, two of which have been on grass – here three years ago and at Queen's Club 12 months later. The world No 3 would love to avenge Australia's victory three days ago over Serbia at the World Cup.

"When my football team loses, I'm a very bad loser," Djokovic said. "I had a sleepless night after we lost."

Andy Roddick dropped a set for the second round in succession before beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, while Federer, having dropped two sets in his first match and one in his second, continued his improvement by beating Arnaud Clément 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. The Frenchman had beaten him in both their previous Grand Slam meetings, in the Australian Open in 2000 and 2001, but never looked capable of upsetting the top seed here. It was Federer's 95th victory on grass.

The defending champion now plays Austria's Jürgen Melzer, who beat Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Federer and Melzer, who reached the French Open semi-finals earlier this month in his best Grand Slam performance, have been friends since they were junior doubles partners at the Orange Bowl in Miami, but this is the first time they have met on the professional tour.

Asked about meeting the Queen at the All England Club on Thursday, Federer said he had sat next to her at lunch. "She made everybody feel very special at the table," he said. "She knew about my tough first round."

Asked exactly what she had said about his first match, Federer joked: "She said I should hit more backhands down the line."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices