Newport, Rhode Island, 15 July 2013 | AAP
Lleyton Hewitt has missed out on capturing his first ATP title in over three years after going down 5-7 7-5 6-3 to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the final of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Sunday.
Mahut, a 2007 Newport finalist and a wildcard entrant this week, won his second career ATP title after also winning at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last month.
Mahut advanced to the final by beating American Michael Russell 6-2 6-2 in a morning semifinal that had been suspended on Saturday after only three points due to heavy rain.
Mahut needed just 63 minutes to beat Russell.
Australian veteran Hewitt had earlier on Sunday posted a morale-boosting win over two-time defending champion John Isner in a rematch of last year’s final to advance to the title match for a second consecutive year.
He beat the American 5-7 6-2 6-4 in their semifinal to end 13 straight match wins in Newport for the 28-year old Isner, the highest ranked American at No.19.
Former world No.1 Hewitt, 32, is seeking his 29th title and the first since he won on grass at Halle in 2010.
“It’s never disappointing losing to a guy like Lleyton Hewitt, especially on this surface,” said Isner, who called for the trainer after the first changeover.
“I was probably eventually going to lose this tournament. It just happened a little earlier than I thought or wanted.”
The 6-foot-10 Isner said he felt pain in his left knee area, similar to what forced him to retire in his second-round match at Wimbledon last month.
“It was obviously not as severe because I was able to continue,” he said.
“It was a little bit scary. The more I think about it and the more I talk about it, I think it’s an issue with my quad because the pain is directly above my kneecap.”
But he said it wasn’t the reason he lost the match, which was played in bright sunshine under humid conditions, with temperatures in the mid-80s.
“He handled the conditions much better than me, simple as that,” he said. “He deserved to win.”
Trailing 5-2 in the final set, the second-seeded Isner broke Hewitt’s serve in the next game before deflecting three match points in the ninth and closing it with an ace to cut the deficit to 5-4.
At 40-30 the final game Hewitt ended the match with a forehand cross-court shot. He raised both hands in the air before waving to his wife Bec.
Isner’s loss spoiled a rematch with Mahut. The pair played the longest match in tennis history when Isner beat Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 – a match that lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes.