The defending champion Roger Federer was on a mission at Wimbledon again in 2004, defeating a former winner Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-7, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes to advance into the semi-final. Dominating in sets one and three, Federer fended off nine out of ten break chances and grabbed seven breaks from 14 opportunities, staying focused during rain delays and leaving the second set behind quickly.
Lleyton gave his best to remain in touch, taking the second set after an excellent performance in the tie break but losing ground right after that to propel Federer into the semis. Roger had almost twice as many winners, spraying more errors but keeping the scoreboard on his side to stay on the title course.
The Aussie had the advantage in the more extended rallies and the Swiss forged his triumph in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes where he had the upper hand. “It was a tough match, as I predicted. The first and third sets don’t show how hard the battle was, as I had to play against early break chances in both.
Overall, I’m pleased with the way I played. We had two or three rain delays, and that’s always challenging. I wasn’t too concerned about darkness or rain. I was hoping to score a win, no matter when. It would have been fine to continue tomorrow.
Unfortunately, we had to face in the quarter-final. Lleyton lost at Queen’s to Andy Roddick and now against me at Wimbledon. It’s a tough grass-swing for him to accept. He didn’t play that many tournaments at the end of the last year, focusing on the Davis Cup and showing his real quality there.
He is not among the leading positions any more but he is still a great fighter. I have always enjoyed playing against him, and I’m thrilled to win our last three encounters. The serve alone is not enough against Lleyton, who brings a lot of balls back.
I had to hit the ball hard to get an ace and, luckily for me, I served well in the crucial moments and that helped me today. He was the better player in the closing stages of the second set and could have won it 7-5 before the tie break.
I made an early mistake and that broke my rhythm, sending the momentum to the other side of the court. Still, that all changed in my favor at the beginning of the third, which was important. His passing shots are incredible; I don’t remember having an easy volley today, as he always makes it tough for you.”
Hewitt had a 4-3 advantage in the fourth set before Roger Federer broke back to level the score at 4-4, fending off two break chances in the ninth game and sealing the deal with another break at 5-4.