Sunday, June 13, 2010
Federer upbeat despite losing final
HALLE, Germany -- Roger Federer remains confident heading into Wimbledon even after losing on grass for only the second time in more than seven years.
The No. 2-ranked Swiss, who came into the final at the Gerry Weber Open with a 76-1 record on grass since 2003, lost 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to Australian Lleyton Hewitt in Sunday's title match.
Federer's only other loss on the surface before Sunday was against top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
"I was unfortunate not to come through today, but the loss here does not worry me in any way," said Federer, a six-time Wimbledon champion. "I thought it was a good tournament for me. I have got to ensure I draw the right conclusions for Wimbledon."
Hewitt beat Federer for the first time in 16 matches dating to 2003. The 29-year-old Australian was playing in his first final of the season.
"It's fantastic," Hewitt said. "Roger is a hell of an opponent and everybody knows how good he is on the grass court. His record speaks for itself."
Top-seeded Federer, who was chasing his sixth title in Halle, had won his previous 29 matches at the tournament. It was Hewitt's first appearance at Germany's only grass-court event.
After cruising through the first four rounds without dropping a single set, Federer met his match in Hewitt, a former No. 1.
Federer started strongly, earning two breaks on Hewitt's first service game, and appeared to be in control after taking the first set 6-3.
Hewitt broke early in the second set, but Federer broke back immediately before both players held serve to set up a tiebreaker. Hewitt won the tiebreaker, converting his fourth set point to even the match and become the first player to take a set from Federer in Halle since 2006.
The final set belonged to Hewitt, who broke again in Federer's first service game. Hewitt took his first match point with a bit of luck as the ball clipped the top of the net, handing Federer his first loss in Halle since a semifinal defeat against Nicolas Kiefer in 2002.
"Roger is a great player and a great champion and every time you step on court against him, you are the underdog on every surface," Hewitt said. "[But] it doesn't matter how big a favorite you are. He still only has two arms and two legs."
Federer will return to Switzerland for a few days before he begins his pursuit of a seventh Wimbledon crown and a chance to extend his record of 16 Grand Slam titles.