Hewitt takes step closer to glory
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:38
Hewitt had not dropped a set in his first three matches but, apparently struggling with a thigh problem, he was decidedly second best in the opening two sets.
The 30-year-old took the initiative from the off and broke Hewitt’s serve in the third game. The Australian’s serve has been one of his big weapons during his run to the last 16 but he was struggling to find any rhythm.
Hewitt broke back but Stepanek responded immediately to go ahead again and went on to take the opening set.
The Czech was having a lot of success with his serve-volley game and he took a firm grip on the match by breaking again at the start of the second set. He made it four games in a row with a second break and at that point Hewitt, whose movement did appear to be somewhat impaired, took an injury time-out.before Stepanek easily served out for a two-set lead.
Hewitt began the third set with renewed purpose and broke his opponent to take a 2-0 lead but he was under pressure immediately after serving two double faults but dug deep and his revival was boosted further when he broke Stepanek for the second consecutive game to make it 4-0.
At that point rain stopped play for the first time in the tournament, but it did not disrupt Hewitt’s momentum as he went on to take six of the next seven games.
By that stage it was Stepanek who was struggling on his serve but he at least managed to hold serve twice to leave the Australian serving to level at two sets all. This time it was Stepanek’s turn to call for the trainer, who applied more strapping to his troublesome left knee.
Hewitt duly levelled and there was to be no great recovery from his opponent as the former world number one rattled off the first nine points of the decider.
Stepanek looked a beaten man and another break in the seventh game left Hewitt serving for the match, which he achieved with ease.