Roger Federer recalls: ‘I turned out to be a bad guy after beating Lleyton Hewitt’

Roger Federer was keen to achieve his first notable result at the Australian Open in 2004. The Swiss traveled to Melbourne without a coach, and he used a favorable draw to beat three rivals from outside the top-100 and enter the last 16 after dropping 20 games in nine sets. After three easy obstacles, Roger had to pass one of the most challenging hurdles en route to the title, facing the home star Lleyton Hewitt in a battle for the quarter-final. The Aussie had an early lead in the rivalry against Federer, scoring seven wins from the opening nine clashes and hoping for more of the same in front of the home crowd on Rod Laver Arena. In the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final, Lleyton came from two sets to love down against Roger in the same stadium to seal the deal for Australia. Federer was eager to avenge that defeat, and he produced a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 victory in two hours and 18 minutes for his first Australian Open quarter-final.

Roger Federer ousted Lleyton Hewitt at the 2004 Australian Open.

Hitting 14 aces, Roger erased six out of seven break chances to keep his serve safe after an early setback that cost him the opener. Hewitt made a solid start, but that was all we saw from him, getting broken five times from 13 opportunities offered to Roger for another failure in front of the home crowd. Federer had about 50 winners, spraying more errors but doing enough to control the pace from the second set and arrange the meeting with David Nalbandian. Roger had the advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies while following Lleyton’s numbers in the most advanced exchanges to outplay the rival in style. From 40-15 in the first game, Federer made a couple of errors to lose four straight points and suffer a break. The Aussie fended off two break chances in the next one to confirm the lead and barely dropped a point on serve in the rest of the set to take it 6-4.

Roger stayed focused at the beginning of the second set to avoid the same scenario and clinched four consecutive points in game six for his first break and a 4-2 advantage. A few minutes later, the Swiss saved a break to cement the lead and defended a couple more at 5-3 to grab the set and level the overall score. The third set turned out to be a disaster for the home favorite, experiencing three breaks to allow Roger to deliver a bagel and gain a massive boost. The Swiss earned a crucial break at 2-2 in the fourth set and erased a break chance while serving for the victory at 5-4 before hitting a smash winner to advance into the next round. 

“I’m chasing no. 1 spot in this tournament, and I turned out to be a bad guy who put Lleyton out of the draw. My goal is to go further, and I’m starting from zero ahead of the quarters,” Roger Federer said. 

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