Very, very quietly, the 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion is playing solid tennis and appears poised to make an upset run at fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro during their second round match on Centre Court today.
Last year was the first in a decade that Hewitt didn't win a tour singles title. A hip injury plagued him throughout his 2008 campaign and eventually forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Open. So far in '09, Hewitt has steadily improved since then, a first round loss in the Australian begat a third round loss at Roland Garros to Rafael Nadal which preceded a tough game with Andy Roddick at Queen's Club. This match-up with a grass court novice like del Potro figures to be a good way to fully get back on track.
The 6 feet 6 inch Del Potro is an enigma on grass. He rarely plays the surface and has had limited success when he has. In his previous two Wimbledons, the Argentinian has won just one match, even though he's advanced to at least the quarterfinals in the other three Grand Slam events.
Del Potro is up-front about his struggles on grass. After his opening round win over Arnaud Clement, he said of his next match:
"I don't know if I can win this tournament someday, but I'm trying. I want to improve my game on this kind of surface. Now I have a very good player in front of me, but I have my weapons, I have my game, and I am confident with that and try to beat him."
Whenever somebody says they're confident, it usually means they aren't. Del Potro has been playing better on grass (the dispatching of Clement was thorough) and figures to one day contend at Wimbledon. But is this the year?
Del Potro often has advantages over smaller opponents (although, I guess almost all of his opponents are smaller), due in main part to a booming serve. But if Hewitt can run Del Potro from the baseline, it could be a very interesting match.
The seasoned veteran against the up-and-coming ace: A great storyline for Day 4 from the All England Club.
- Lleyton Hewitt
- Juan Martin del Potro
- Centre Court