(Reuters) – Roger Federer suffered a shock defeat by Lleyton Hewitt in the final of the Halle grasscourt event Sunday, losing 3-6 7-6 6-4 to the Australian.
Six-times Wimbledon champion Federer had not lost a match at Halle since 2002, winning the title five times, and had beaten Hewitt 15 times in a row over the past six years.
Hewitt, a former Wimbledon champion himself, ended the two hour 20 minute contest when his forehand hit the net tape and dropped dead on Federer’s side.
“He played fantastic and deserved to win,” Federer told the tournament’s website (www.garyweber-open.com)
The Swiss said he had been satisfied with his tournament but without a title since the Australian Open at the start of the year he is looking a little vulnerable as Wimbledon approaches.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” he said. It’s unfortunate not coming through today, but I think my level of play is fine. This loss here doesn’t worry me in any way.”
Hewitt rolled back the years to complete his collection of the world’s top grasscourt titles. He has won Wimbledon, Queen’s Club and now Halle.
“Roger’s a hell of an opponent, his grass-court record speaks for itself,” Hewitt told reporters. “Any time you play Roger on a grass court you know you’re in for a hell of a battle and I was lucky to get out of today’s match.
“It’s fantastic for me. I’m getting toward the end of my career and had couple of surgeries, to know I can still compete at this level. I’m thrilled to be here and to have won another title.”
Going into Sunday’s final, Federer had won 76 of his last 77 matches on grass dating back to 2002. His only blemish was a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
However, Hewitt is not one to surrender easily and he refused to be intimidated by his abysmal record against the 16-times grand slam champion.
After allowing Federer to bag the first set, he chased down everything the top seed could throw at him to win his first title in over a year and first on grass since triumphing at Queen’s in 2006.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London; editing by Ed Osmond and Alison Wildey)