Hewitt turns back the clock to beat Federer

On the rare occasions when Roger Federer's fortunes have faltered in the past, normal service has nearly always resumed once the grass-court season has come around. Even when his run of five successive Wimbledon victories was ended by Rafael Nadal two years ago, Federer returned to the All England Club 12 months later to reclaim his crown and thereby eclipse Pete Sampras's all-time record of 14 major titles.

Until this week, that defeat to Nadal had been Federer's only grass-court defeat in 77 matches going back over eight years. But yesterday, the Swiss lost 6-3, 6-7, 4-6 to his old rival Lleyton Hewitt in the final at Halle, Germany, where Federer traditionally completes his Wimbledon preparations.

Not only was it Federer's first defeat at the tournament since 2002, but it was also Hewitt's first victory over him in his past 16 attempts. The Australian used to be a persistent thorn in the world No 2's side, winning seven of their first nine encounters, but this was his first victory over him for seven years.

Hewitt's career has been dogged by injury in recent times – he had hip and knee surgery after this year's Australian Open – but the former Wimbledon and US Open champion remains a great competitor. He gave Nadal one of his toughest matches at the recent French Open and has always performed well on grass.

The match was tight and ended, after two hours and 20 minutes, when a Hewitt forehand hit the top of the net and toppled over on to Federer's side of the court. It was the world No 32's first grass-court title for four years.

"It was a very sweet win," Hewitt said afterwards. "After surgery, you're never quite sure how long it will take to be truly competitive against the best players in the world, but I had glimpses of it against Nadal in Paris, when I felt I was right in the match. Today, I really felt my movement had come back. It was good quality tennis."

Federer's defeat will reinforce the opinions of those who wonder if he may be on the slide. The Swiss has bounced back from adversity in the past, but he has been on a particularly poor run ever since he beat Andy Murray in the final of the Australian Open. He has not won a tournament since then and his quarter-final defeat to Robin Soderling in the French Open ended his record run of 23 successive appearances in Grand Slam semi-finals.

It was Hewitt's first appearance in Halle, the Australian having warmed up for Wimbledon for the previous 12 years by playing at Queen's Club in London, where he has won the title four times.

Queen's crowned a new champion yesterday when Sam Querrey won the Aegon Championships by beating Mardy Fish, his friend and fellow American, 7-6, 7-5 in the final. Querrey, 22, has now claimed titles on three different surfaces this year, having won on clay in Belgrade and on a hard-court in Memphis.

Querrey saved three break points in the second game, but thereafter rarely looked in trouble on his serve and took the first set tie-break 7-3. Four successive aces got the world No 23 off to the perfect start in the second set, only for Fish to break in the fifth game. However, Fish played a poor game when serving for the set at 5-4, rounding off with two woeful backhands, and Querrey broke him again two games later to secure the match.

Maria Sharapova's attempt to win the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston for a third time ended in a 7-5, 6-1 defeat by China's Li Na, who also beat the Russian in last year's semi-finals.

Laura Robson, the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, was beaten 6-3 6-4 by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, the world No 47, in the first round in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, but Heather Watson, Britain's US Open junior champion, recorded the best victory of her career when she beat Tsvetana Pironkova, the world No 81, in qualifying for this week's Aegon International at Eastbourne. Watson, who had never beaten a player in the world's top 100, won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the first round of the men's event Britain's Jamie Baker went down 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Alexandr Dolgopolov.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'