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Novak Djokovic after last match against Lleyton Hewitt: ‘I respect him a lot’

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In a battle of former Wimbledon champions, Novak Djokovic toppled Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the 2012 Olympic Games third round. Novak needed an hour and 56 minutes to seal the deal on Centre Court and advance into the quarter-final, beating Lleyton for the sixth straight time in their last duel on the Tour.

Djokovic saved two out of four break chances and took charge from the second set’s closing stages to emerge at the top and enter the last eight. Hewitt was two games away from a notable victory, but he failed to make one final push before fading from the court.

They hit a similar number of unforced and forced mistakes, and the Serb created the gap with almost 40 winners. Hewitt was slightly ahead in the most extended exchanges, and Djokovic overcame that with a strong performance in the quickest rallies up to four strokes.

Both players served well in the opening eight games to close them in 28 minutes and stay neck and neck. Novak fended off two break points in the ninth game with winners but failed to do the same on the third, losing a 17-stroke rally to find himself 5-4 down.

Lleyton held at love in the tenth game to claim the opener with a forehand winner after 39 minutes. The Aussie served well at the beginning of the second set, and he closed the sixth game at love for 3-3. That all changed after Novak’s forehand winner in game eight, and he grabbed a break to open a 5-3 gap.

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Novak Djokovic and Lleyton Hewitt battled in the 2012 Olympics third round.
Ready to fight, Hewitt broke back in game nine with a cracking backhand down the line winner and held at 30 in game ten for 5-5 and momentum. Staying composed, Djokovic held at love in game 11 and clinched a break with a forehand crosscourt winner in the next one for 7-5 and a decider.

Novak opened the final set with a service winner and held at 15 in game three for 2-1. In the fourth game, Hewitt sprayed a forehand mistake to fall 3-1 behind and seal his fate. Djokovic held in game five with a drop shot winner and grabbed another break after Hewitt’s backhand error for a 5-1 advantage.

Novak Djokovic

Serving for the victory, Novak brought the seventh game home at 30 to emerge at the top and reach the quarter-final. “It was a different match from our encounter at the Australian Open. Lleyton plays his best tennis on grass; he is a former world no.

1, and I respect him a lot. Lleyton is a great competitor, and he has shown again this year how much he enjoys competing on the big scene, especially for his country. He is one of the players who like performing against the rivals from the top; he always delivers his best in those situations.

I knew he could play well on grass, and I did not want to underestimate him. Lleyton has the quality to return into the top-20 if he remains healthy. With his level from today, he can beat anybody on a given day. He was a better player in the first half of the match, and then I managed to play well and be aggressive.

I tried to stay focused on my serve and seek return chances. Lleyton served well in the opening two sets, with many efficiencies. I had to step in, as he did almost everything right. I changed the momentum in the middle of the second set when I grabbed a break. He broke back, but I felt I should use the drive from that moment on,” Novak Djokovic said.

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