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Record crowds flocked to the Queensland tennis centre to watch the top seed Roger Federer take on home crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the final of the Brisbane International in 2014.
Over 100,000 spectators also gathered to watch the top seeds in the women’s draw fight it out, with World No. 1 Serena Williams prevailing over Victoria Azarenka. Organisers would hope that over 100,000 people will return to the tournament in 2015 ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne.
Lleyton Hewitt was the Brisbane International champion in 2014 upsetting Roger Federer, his oldest rival on the tour, in a thrilling three set final.Lleyton Hewitt (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
It was Hewitt and Federer’s 27th
career meeting, however only the ninth time the Australian was able to overcome the Swiss maestro.
Hewitt won the opening set in just 27 minutes as he dropped only a single game to claim it 6-1. It was an error riddled first set on Federer’s behalf as the top seed hit 22 unforced errors and was broken on serve three times. The Swiss great shanked a couple of baseline shots into the crowd and even took a complete air-swing at one of Hewitt’s shots.
“I think it was a combination of two things, that Lleyton played good. Definitely got a lot of returns back and put the pressure on me from the baseline. I really was struggling with all sorts of rhythm,” Federer said reflecting on the first set.
However despite Hewitt surprising many by taking the opening set convincingly the former World No. 1 champion could not be written off just yet and it was Federer who prevailed in the second.
“You want to keep playing your game and hope that things turn around for you eventually. Kind of did in the second set, so that was better,” Federer said.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion managed to hold serve in the second set and eventually broke the Hewitt serve to lead 5-4, as Hewitt wasted a 40-0 lead in his service game. Federer served out the second set with the help of a few aces and leveled the match at one set all.
Roger Federer (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Hewitt got the early break in the deciding set and raced away to an ominous 4-1 lead. The 32-year-old Australian eventually managed to serve out the match as he clinched the third set 6-3. Hewitt was ecstatic and threw his hands up in the air after the victory.
“To beat possibly the greatest player in the final means a lot,” Hewitt said.
But Federer only had regrets for the missed opportunities he had failed to capitalise on: “Lleyton did a good job hanging around, but I should have taken advantage already earlier I think in the one-all, two‑all games. So I have some regrets there.”
“It’s unfortunately one of those matches that got away from me. I got to try to do better job next time around when I get in this position,” he continued.
The win in Brisbane was only Hewitt’s first title he was able to win on home soil since his victory at the Sydney International in 2005. It was also the first time Hewitt had defeated Federer since the Australia v Switzerland World Group semi-final where he came from two sets down to win in a gruelling five-setter.
As they both approach the end of their respective careers, only time will tell if Hewitt and Federer will return to compete in the Brisbane International in 2015.