Brave Hewitt no match for Djokovic as defending champion books last eight place
Lleyton Hewitt rolled back the years tonight to deliver a typically gutsy display but it was not enough to derail Novak Djokovic's title defence at the Australian Open.
Hewitt looked down and out at two sets and 3-0 down but he stormed back to take the contest to a fourth set in which the world number one showed battling qualities of his own to edge through 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in nearly three hours.
For so long, it was one-way traffic with Hewitt looking flat and tired after his exertions against Andy Roddick and Milos Raonic in the previous rounds.
Well played: Lleyton Hewitt congratulates defending champion Novak Djokovic after the Serb booked his place in the last eight
And Djokovic took full advantage, three breaks handing him the first set and three more moving him two sets up.
And when he won the first three games of the third, it seemed just a matter of time before victory was secured.
But, from nowhere, Hewitt found some
form and, all of a sudden, Djokovic looked rattled. The 30-year-old from
Adelaide, twice a grand slam champion, dragged it back to 3-3, broke
again for a 5-4 lead and then served it out.
Drop it like it's hot: World No 1 Djokovic swoops across court to return to Hewitt
And when Djokovic faced another break
point in the third game of the fourth set, the comeback looked set to
continue. But the Serbian held his nerve to win the game and with that
he regained the momentum.
He claimed the Hewitt serve to go 4-2 up and it proved a lead he would not relinquish.
'I have to give credit to my opponent who never gives up,' said Djokovic.
Fight back: Home favourite Hewitt manged to take the third set off of Djokovic
'He's a great competitor and he kept
on making me play an extra shot. I made a couple of unforced errors and
he got back into the match. I have a lot of respect for him.
'For two sets and 3-0 I was playing
really well and then I stopped moving but credit to him, he wasn't
making any unforced errors.'
Thumbs up: Djokovic will play Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-final
Next for Djokovic is a meeting with fifth seed David Ferrer in the last eight.
The Spaniard was an impressive winner, beating the dangerous Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.
The other quarter-final in the top half will be between Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori after both men progressed.