The 17-times grand slam champion, who won the last of his 77
titles last June, was beaten 6-1 4-6 6-3 by a typically gutsy Hewitt
who ended a more than three-year title drought.
World number six Federer, who had led their rivalry 18-8 before the
final, looked to have turned the match his way after recovering from
a slow start but Hewitt showed responded to claim the title in a
little over two hours.
"To beat possibly the greatest player in the final means a lot,"
Hewitt said. "It's not an easy tournament to win.
"In the first set I was seeing the ball like a football. Didn't
really matter where he served I was on it."
Federer had seven break points in the third set but failed to
convert any of them as Hewitt ended a 15-match losing run against
his fellow 32-year-old.
Despite the disappointment Federer remained hopeful for this month's
"I was able to sort of serve better overall, more consistent this
week than I have in a long time — so that's very good," Federer, who
had not dropped serve before the final, said.
"I definitely needed a little bit more confidence to play well and
hopefully win the tournament and so forth.
"I have a clear idea what I need to work on and I have a clear
idea where my mind and body is at."
[to top of second column]
Federer can scarcely have opened a match in worse touch.
He hit 22 unforced errors in the first set, lost three service games
and performed a complete air-shot off one attempted backhand service
"I was really struggling with all sorts of rhythm," Federer said. "I
wouldn't say I was serving poorly, but it was just a tough set for
me. I was put on the back foot very often."
Hewitt did not lose a point on his first serve in the opening set,
making just three unforced errors as he took command with his
Federer improved markedly in the second set, coming back from 0-40
down to capture the Australian's serve in the ninth game and then
served out to love to take the set.
Despite Hewitt's serve being far more consistently under threat in
the third set he secured the only break in the fourth game when
Federer hit a forehand wide.
Then, showing the resolve that made him a two-time major winner, the
Australian held firm to secure his first ATP title in Australia
since winning in Sydney in 2005.
(Editing by John O'Brien and Martyn Herman)
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