By Jane Voigt
Newport, RI, July 14, 2014 — Lleyton Hewitt won his 30th career title in Newport today, playing in his third consecutive final at The Tennis Hall of Fame Championships. He defeated Iva Karlovic 63 67(4) 76(3). But the Aussie three-seed was not done for the day. He and partner Chris Guiccione won the doubles title, as well. This marks the first time in Hewitt’s career that he has won both a singles and doubles title in one tournament.
When Hewitt clinched championship point in singles, he fell to his knees and pumped his fist before all three of his children rushed out to congratulate him.
“Yeah, obviously just relief to have finally won here,” Hewitt said. “I’ve come here for three years and have put myself on the line and have come awfully close the last two years, so it’s nice to get rewarded today.”
Hewitt lost a tight 3-setter last year to Nicolas Mahut, and in 2012 Hewitt lost to John Isner.
Throughout the week the tournament had been a contrast of styles. Big guys with big serves — John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Samuel Groth, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock — versus fighters and artful dodgers that swept past the dominance of the massive numbers of aces hurtled their way. For the week, Karlovic served 79 aces to Hewitt’s 18.
“On these grass courts it’s not easy to turn up and play consistently and beat guys,” Hewitt said. “So that’s something I’m more proud of to beat some of the best servers in the game, Karlovic on this court. So that just shows I’m still able to match up with the guys on grass.”
Hewitt defeated Sock and Johnson by crafting a strategy that forced Johnson, first, to hit from his weaker side, his backhand. Then Hewitt destroyed Sock, 61 62, using much the same tactics, and scrambling to get as many balls back as possible.
In the end Hewitt’s variety, returns, and spirit saw him through. He became the 10th player over 30 to win an ATP career title this season, and the oldest winner in 2014.
Hewitt got the best of Karlovic in the first set due to an early break of serve. Up a break in the second, too, Hewitt served for the match at 5-3.
“I was a bit disappointed not to close it out that game. It was tough conditions today again, though,” Hewitt told a small gathering of the press.
Karlovic, though, was just as much the cause of Hewitt’s problems. The six-ten Croatian, and the first one from his country to make the final in Newport, kept the ball low and forced errors. Time after time he raised his game, as if pressure spurred him on. He saved two match points late in the second, and smacked an ace to send it to a tiebreak.
The wind was a constant companion from start to finish, although the sun pleased everyone. Thin scattered clouds flew low over the stadium, coming in south off Newport Harbor. Add those breezes and gusts to the chewed up grass and the match became as much an athletic endeavor as one to hit a winner or force an error.
“I was trying to play clean tennis,” Hewitt began. “But obviously from the baseline I was able to adjust to the wind a little better than him. And at times out there it really didn’t feel like tennis, more like pot luck.”
This was Hewitt’s tenth final on grass, which notches up to 8-2 with today’s victory. He has also won four other grass-court titles, most notably Wimbledon in 2002. He joins Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal, as an active player with 30 or more career titles.
“Grand Slams and Davis Cup are still what drives me,” Hewitt began, when talking about his motivation to continue playing tennis at 33. “It’s exciting now that we have some of the younger guys coming through. I feel the weight is not all on my shoulders now. I can hand it back to some of those guys in the next couple years. They can then take it over.”
Hewitt and buddy Aussie Chris Guccione defeated Israeli Jonathan Erlich and American Rajeev Ram 75 64 in the doubles category. Their match hit center court about an hour after Hewitt won his singles title.