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Lleyton Hewitt beats Roger Federer to end title drought

updated 11:52 AM EST, Sun January 5, 2014
Home favorite Lleyton Hewitt celebrates after beating Roger Federer in the Brisbane final Sunday.
Home favorite Lleyton Hewitt celebrates after beating Roger Federer in the Brisbane final Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lleyton Hewitt wins his first title in four years by defeating Roger Federer
  • Hewitt became the first player to break Federer in Brisbane and triumphs in three sets
  • Federer's record against his fellow 32-year-old and grand slam champion fell to 18-9
  • But there was a Swiss winner in Chennai courtesy of Stanislas Wawrinka

(CNN) -- The last few years when he has played at his home grand slam, the Australian Open, Lleyton Hewitt has been asked: When are you going to retire?

The former No. 1 has been hit hard by injuries in recent campaigns, undergoing multiple hip operations and another procedure to mend a foot, so it's not the silliest question.

Hewitt perennially replies that he still thinks he can compete with the best players in the world when healthy -- or close to it.

The feisty baseliner proved it Sunday when he beat his fellow 32-year-old, Roger Federer, 6-1 4-6 6-3 to win the Brisbane International.

It was Hewitt's first title since downing Federer in Halle in 2010 and his first in Australia since Sydney nine years ago.

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The victory over the 17-time grand slam champion won't be enough to earn Hewitt a seeding at the Australian Open next week but once again he'll be a player the favorites want to avoid in the early rounds.

"Playing the best players in the world and finals of tournaments, always it's exciting," 60th-ranked Hewitt told the ATP's website. "That's why you still play the game.

"For me, it was motivation enough just to try to get the win out there and obviously win another title.

"It's been a couple of years. So I was ready for the challenge today."

Federer, playing with a larger racket head this year in a bid to recapture old form, hadn't been broken en route to the final and struck 20 aces in the semifinals against Jeremy Chardy.

But two-time grand slam winner Hewitt, a fine returner, broke the Swiss three times in the first set.

Federer appeared to have taken control of the affair when he broke at 4-4 in the second but Hewitt grabbed an early break in the third and saved all seven break points he faced.

Federer fell to 18-9 against Hewitt and has lost two of their last three encounters.

"I didn't play great today, which is a bit unfortunate," Federer said. "But also Lleyton was the best player I played this week.

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"He made it toughest on me. I have a clear idea what I need to work on, and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is at."

Both men will now spend the next week preparing for the year's first major.

"I'm very hungry and eager to attack the Australian Open," said Federer.

There was, however, a Swiss winner Sunday as Stanislas Wawrinka beat Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5 6-2 in Chennai.

Wawrinka, who made his debut at the year-end championships in November, captured a second title in the southern Indian city following his triumph in 2011.

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