ThrowbackTimes: Roger Federer beats Lleyton Hewitt to defend the title


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ThrowbackTimes: Roger Federer beats Lleyton Hewitt to defend the title

Back in 2004, Roger Federer became world no. 1 for the first time, winning three Majors and moving miles away from all the rivals. A year later, Rafael Nadal was there to challenge him but Federer knew how to keep himself in front, with both players conquering 11 titles to leave the rest of the field far behind.

The Swiss couldn't defend the title at the Australian Open before claiming the third straight trophy in Dubai, gathering momentum ahead of Indian Wells where he repeated the winning path from 2004 to lift the fifth Masters 1000 title.

Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt were the top seeds in the desert that year and they both played on a high level to set the final clash, with Federer beating Guillermo Canas in the semis and Hewitt who prevailed against Andy Roddick in three tie breaks to set the 16th clash against the Swiss.

Losing seven of the first nine encounters against the Aussie, Federer finally found the winning formula for Lleyton, beating him six times in 2004 and delivering the seventh consecutive victory in Indian Wells to lift the trophy.

Roger needed an hour and 54 minutes to notch a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win, fending off six out of seven break chances and stealing the opponent's serve five times from 15 opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets against a former champion.

Federer fired more than 40 winners and sprayed around 30 unforced errors, controlling the pace in the rallies and reducing Hewitt to 15 winners and 30 unforced errors, staying in front all the time and celebrating the second crown in the desert.

Roger had a clear advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, dominating with the initial shot and the first groundstroke to impose his tactic and stay aggressive from start to finish, winning more points in the more extended exchanges to forge the victory and become a deserved champion.

It was the best possible start for the Swiss, securing a break in the first game when Hewitt sprayed a forehand mistake and fending off a break chance in game two with a service winner to open a 2-0 gap thanks to a forehand winner.

At 30-30 in the sixth game, Roger landed two winners to remain in front, clinching another break to move 5-2 ahead and closing the opener with four winners in the next game after 28 minutes. Hewitt claimed one of the best points in Indian Wells history to repel a break chance in the third game of the second set, staying in touch until 3-3 when Federer grabbed a break following a backhand error from his opponent, cementing it with an ace and landing three winners in game ten to forge two sets to love advantage, taking a big step towards the finish line.

With nothing working his way, Lleyton lost serve in the first game of the third set and fought back from 40-0 down in the third game to avoid an even bigger deficit before Roger grabbed a break with a forehand down the line winner in game five to open a 4-1 gap.

The Aussie pulled one break back in the next game after a careless forehand from the Swiss who faced another break point at 4-3, saving it with an ace and closing the game to remain ahead. Serving for the title, Federer blasted three powerful serves in the tenth game to seal the deal and defend the crown in the desert, repeating what Hewitt did before him in 2002 and 2003.