Lleyton Hewitt rallied to beat five-time champion Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 for the Halle grass court title on Sunday, leaving the Swiss with some work to do before Wimbledon.
The eighth-seeded Hewitt, served out the match in 2 hours 21 minutes for his 28th career title, which was worth 113,600 euros (137,500 dollars), winning when his forehand bounced off the net unreachable for Federer.
It was his first win over the Swiss Federer in 16 matches and seven years as Hewitt raised his immaculate record in grass court finals to 7-0. The Australian had not beaten Federer since 2003 and trails 17-8 in the series.
The top-seed Federer suffered his first defeat in Halle since the 2002 semifinals (against German Nicolas Kiefer), having won 29 matches in a row there with five titles 2003-2006 and 2008.
He did not play at the German venue in 2007 and 2009. It was only his second defeat on grass overall since 2003, the other being in the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal, for a 76-2 record on the surface in that period.
Sunday’s defeat was another setback for Federer, after crashing out of the French Open as title holder against Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals almost two weeks ago and then losing the world number one ranking to Nadal again.
He must now quickly regain his confidence for the next Wimbledon starting on June 21, where Federer will seek a seventh title.
In the Halle final between the two most successful active grass court players, Federer drew first blood by taking the opening set.
But Hewitt clawed back into the game and levelled the sets in a tiebreak.
Playing in Halle for the first time, Hewitt took the momentum into the final set as he broke Federer in the opening game. Hewitt missed a break point in the seventh game as Federer continued to struggle with his serve.
Hewitt double-faulted to face break point while serving for the match but a driving forehand made it deuce. The Australian then clinched victory with a smash and the forehand bouncing over the net on first match point as he ended Federer’s reign in Halle.