Old Father Time glares at Hewitt as Federer marches on oblivious

Lleyton Hewitt is only six months older than Roger Federer, but when they met on Centre Court yesterday it felt like a meeting of the generations. Hewitt was the last player to win the Wimbledon title before the London Borough of Merton was turned into a Swiss canton, but his 2002 victory felt a lifetime away as Federer won 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 to become the first man through to the quarter-finals.

This was the world No 1's 63rd consecutive win on grass and his 12th successive victory over Hewitt. The five-times champion has yet to drop a set at this year's tournament and now faces Mario Ancic, the last player to beat him on these courts, in Hewitt's championship year. Poor Lleyton.

There is no grittier competitor who hates losing more than the 27-year-old Australian, but by the end of this one hour 49-minute contest he was offering as much threat to Federer as a koala bear with a hangover. Hewitt has been plagued by injuries over the last three years and the latest, a hip problem, might leave him wondering how much longer he has left in the game. From the start of the third set Hewitt was clearly in discomfort.

The pity of it was that for 12 games Hewitt, moving freely, had matched Federer shot for shot in a classy demonstration of grass-court tennis. Some of the rallies were a delight, with both players striving to gain an advantage through the variety of their shots before going to the net for the kill.

However, Hewitt never got the measure of Federer's serve. Because he does not bludgeon the ball with the power of a Roddick, the world No 1's serve can be under-rated, but what he lacks in brute force he more than makes up for with disguise, artistry and precision. Federer hit 21 aces. His length was impeccable and Hewitt rarely got to grips with his kick serves, which he often had to play at shoulder height. Hewitt had eight break points but failed to convert any of them.

If most of the first set was a feast, the tie-break was a dog's dinner. Federer won it 9-7 but only by dint of making fewer errors.

The Swiss immediately drove home his advantage, winning the first four games of the second set and going on to take the third with another early break. "I felt like I served well, especially when I had to," Federer said afterwards. Hewitt did not sound optimistic about the future. He is a player who needs to build his momentum through playing plenty of matches, but he said the hip injury had not been getting better and he had given little thought to the Olympics or US Open.

As for future Wimbledons, all Hewitt could offer was the "hope" that he would be back next year. By then there will be a further reason why he might consider his future. His wife, Bec Cartwright, the soap actress , who was watching from the sidelines, is expecting their second child.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee