Friday, 23 January 2015

Hewitt loses to another Becker

Just for the record, Lleyton Hewitt has been around so long that he has played both Boris Becker - Wimbledon 1999 and lost - and Benjamin Becker (his second round opponent in the 2015 Aus Open on Night Four)

Also for background useless information Boris is no relation to the newer German Becker, currently ranked 41 in the world and therefore potentially tough work for Lleyton.  Of course Hewitt thrives on the tough matches, and we could be set for a long one.

Predictions are not assisted by Head to Head stats since the only two meetings were in 2009 and 2010 and one of those was on grass.  Becker is 0 for 2 in 2015 coming into this event and Hewitt 0 for 1 so nothing to guide us there either.  Home ground advantage and crowd favouritism could aid Lleyton but I fancy Benjamin may be too strong irrespective.

Hewitt served first and began methodically, while Becker tried to find his bearings - once he did they traded off-forehand winners and Hewitt held serve.
Hewitt surprised Becker with his capacity to retrieve and caused the German to be off balance for a number of shots - Becker saved a break point but was tentative with the next and stuck it into the bottom of the net to donate the break to the Australian.  Hewitt then held for 3-0.

While Hewitt wasn't blasting his serve past Becker he was using all his cunning to manoeuvre the ball to awkward spots and accordingly he was able to hold serve with relative comfort.  Becker must have been relieved to post a figure on the board too and after 20 minutes he was at the line again trailing 1-4.
Becker served a gourmet feast, finished off with a succulent ace but still could not break through the consistent Australian serve, the highlight of which was a duelling lob point won by the German.

The gourmet serve then fell away to yesterday's leftovers and Hewitt broke again to take the set 6-2, hardly making a mistake and winding back the clock to his years at the top.

There was no let up with the only accurate shot played by Becker in the second set that when he threw his racquet on the court - he couldn't find the court with a tennis ball.  Hewitt won the first five games and Benjamin who had already run out of ideas could probably have used advice from a ball kid right about now.

Lleyton Hewitt led 6-2 6-1.

Now Grand Slam tournament matches are best of five set affairs, and unfortunately Lleyton must have lost that message somewhere in the briefing because from the end of set two he became a different player.  It must be said that Benjamin served a hell of a lot better too.

Becker served an ace in each of his first 3 service games in set three and Hewitt began to struggle, unforced errors now becoming the norm rather than the exception.  The paper covering the growing cracks finally tore apart in the sixth game when a fumbled forehand volley followed by another blunder off the forehand wing cost the Aussie his serve and Becker led 4-2.

An easy hold for 5-2 and eventually the set 6-3, and the match had turned full circle.  Becker won all of the points on his first serve in set 2 compared to only half the set before - importantly though Hewitt led 2 sets to one.

Lleyton was immediately broken in the opening game of set 4 and it became worse after that.
His game was no match for an inspired Becker and although the German needed two goes at serving out the set, the second was successful and a fifth set was required to decide the match.

The first two games of the decider went to serve easily but the pivotal game was the third where Hewitt's double fault at 15-15 seemed to define the remainder of the game and the match for the Aussie.  Becker seized on the tentative stroke making and it was his decisive forehand which finally achieved the break for a 2-1 lead.

The gap proved irretrievable and Benjamin Becker for the first time in his career won a five setter from two sets down 2-6 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Disappointing for Hewitt in one of his last appearances (may be the last?) on Rod Laver Arena in an Aus Open. 

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