Just over a week ago, it would have been hard to imagine a possible battle of the old guard, where 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt will meet in the finals of the Brisbane International for the first time in their respective careers. For Federer, this is an opportunity to redeem his disappointing 2013 season and win the Brisbane title in his debut at the event, while Hewitt is in the finals in Australia for the first time since 2005 and will be looking for his first ATP World Tour Title since 2010. The Federer vs Hewitt Head to Head stands at 18-8.
Federer has been dominant since arriving in Brisbane. He needed just under two hours to defeat Chardy in their first ever career meeting, managing 20 aces throughout the match and got the decisive break in the eighth game of the final set before serving out victory to love. He continues to feel comfortable with his new racquet frame and appears to be well on his way to his 79th career title, which would put him at third all-time ahead of John McEnroe.
Federer appeared excited for the prospect of not only facing someone slightly older than himself, but the opportunity to one again face off with the man he had such a thriving rivalry against nearly a decade ago.
“I don’t play many guys who are older than me or my age,” said Federer, after he beat Jeremy Chardy in the semi-finals. “Even though there are quite a few guys around who are hanging on. I think we’re both really looking forward to it.
“My rivalry with him was pretty intense – never nasty or anything, but just good matches. We’re total opposite from one another the way we play. I play with the one‑handed backhand; he plays his double‑handed. His attitude on court is totally different to mine. I think that’s why it’s always an interesting match-up for both of us.”
Hewitt has had a fantastic week in Brisbane, which he began with a upset victory over Feliciano Lopez, followed up with a win over Marius Copil before arriving at Japanese no. 1 Kei Nishikori, who he needed three sets to dispatch of to reach his 45th career final. He will now get the opportunity to challenge for his 29th career title and his first since defeating Federer in Halle three years ago.
Hewitt also agrees that the two have a longstanding rivalry and is looking forward to clashing once again in the finals in Australia.
“You want to play against the best players, and obviously Roger and I have a good history and a lot of tough matches in the past in [Grand] Slams and Davis Cups and everything,” said Hewitt. “He’s been great obviously for this tournament and ticket sales and promoting tennis in Australia again. I’m going to enjoy it.”
These two players will meet once again for the first time since a Davis Cup clash in 2011 but the Brisbane final marks their first hard-court clash since January 2010 at the Australian Open, which Federer won in straight sets. Ranked 54 spots above Lleyton Hewitt, it is undoubtable that Federer will come into this match as a strong favourite. He has not lost to Hewitt since their 2010 meeting in the finals in Halle and has not lost to him on hard court since a Davis Cup tie in 2003.
Prediction: Federer in Three Sets