How last year’s semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz allowed his second round meeting with Lleyton Hewitt to go to five sets is anybody’s guess.
The 6ft 8in Pole eventually emerged the winner 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, but he double faulted on match point in that third set tie-break and for a long while it seemed all the momentum was with the 2002 champion, now ranked No.48, who was relishing every moment. But it was Janowicz who took it, and he will faceTommy Robredo in the third round.
The two resumed on No.2 Court on Friday after rain forced the match to be held over from Thursday evening, with the Pole leading by a set with the second at 4-4. At once Janowicz grabbed the momentum, closing out the second and holding two match points in the third set tie-break. But the double faults which have plagued him of late struck at the worst possible time.
At 2-2 in the fourth Hewitt found himself on the receiving end of a bizarre code violation for audible obscenity, after bellowing “Sit!” – as in “sit down” – to the ball when he missed a shot. The Australian protested, and umpire Fergus Murphy told him: “Don’t say anything that’s close to another word”.
Far from distracting Hewitt, the incident seemed only to fire him up. He took the match into the decider – whereupon as suddenly as he had slumped, the No.15 seed found inspiration and raced to 5-1. He was serving for it when Hewitt got a break back, and all observers wondered if the ever-hungry Australian was yet done.
But Janowicz served it out to love, and his relief was plain to see – no wonder, as had he lost this match he would have fallen out of the top 50 from his current ranking of No.25 (he is seeded No.15 here in acknowledgment of last year’s achievements).
“It’s a really good win for me,” he smiled. “Lleyton Hewitt is a really dangerous player. Doesn’t matter how old he is or what his ranking is now. He’s an extremely good player, especially on grass. I hope I will not play against him any more.
“So I had to play really good and be focused from the beginning. A little bit unlucky moment in the third set tie-break. I took a small risk on the second serve when I had my first match point. I missed by four centimetres, and on the next match point he played a backhand winner down exactly the middle of the line. So a little bit unlucky there, but I was able to pull it off. I played an unbelievable fifth set, and I’m really happy.”
Janowicz refused to believe that 33-year-old Hewitt could possibly be retiring, insisting the Australian will play on for two more years. But Hewitt himself seemed less certain.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked if he “waved goodbye for good” as he exited No.2 Court. “You never know. I’m one injury away from hanging up the bats at any time. I still enjoy doing the hard work and having moments like this, playing five-setters against the best guys in the world. After the last surgery I didn’t think I’d be able to compete against the guys again, so I’ve been grateful to come back.
“The body felt fine out there which is obviously positive. But it’s frustrating to walk off the court feeling like I could have bounced back for another five-setter tomorrow [if I had won]. But you don’t get the opportunity.
“I felt like I was starting to turn the match around in the fourth set, you’re only a few points away from him opening it again. He takes pretty big cuts at the ball. That’s what happened. He saved a couple of big break points in the first game of the fifth, then took the match out of my hands.”
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