Novak Djokovic overcomes Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic overcame a spirited performance from Lleyton Hewitt to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.
The Serb, 23, eventually saw off the tenacious Australian in four sets 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Donned as ‘Manic Monday’, eyes were firmly fixed on the delectable fourth round clashes with Kim Clijsters up against Justine Henin and Serena Williams playing Maria Sharapova.
But on the men’s side of the draw the exciting clash between Djokovic and Hewitt on Court No.1 was easily the most intriguing spectacle on day eight at SW19.
Hewitt boasts the best grass court record of any active male player including Roger Federer. Djokovic, meanwhile, has one Grand Slam title to his name: the Australian Open -the title which Hewitt so craves.
A closely-fought first set saw both players produce some of their best tennis. The opening 11 games went with serve with both players posting impressive first serve percentages.
But crucially Hewitt faltered at 6-5 when facing set point. The 15th seed hit a forehand narrowly wide to hand Djokovic the lead.
Hewitt threatened to implode with Djokovic crafting two early break points in the second. The 2002 champion, however, reminded us of his infamous steely character by summoning that extra mite to deflect the advances of his Serbian opponent.
Once again, however, Hewitt stumbled when asked to serve to remain in the set and another unforced error afforded the Serb a two-set lead.
With victory appearing inevitable, the Serb began to struggle with a stomach complaint. The world No.3 called for the doctor and following the break in play, Hewitt seized the chance to break, claiming the third set to ensure a tense fourth.
But Hewitt immediately succumbed to a reinvigorated Djokovic, dropping his serve to allow the Serb to mount a comeback.
With the wavering rhythm of both players, however, it came as no surprise when Hewitt struck back once more to level the set at 2-2.
With the match ebbing towards the three-hour mark Hewitt faced a vital service game at 4-4. A series of unforced errors provided Djokovic with a valuable break point and a nervy Hewitt delivered an untimely double fault to hand the Serb the chance to serve out the match.
The third seed duly obliged by sealing the match with a stunning forehand which left Hewitt with no answer.