Federer cruises to Wimbledon final
LONDON, England -- Defending champion Roger Federer swatted Australian Lleyton Hewitt aside 6-3 6-4 7-6 to reach the Wimbledon final and stay on course for a hat-trick of titles.
Third seed Hewitt, the 2002 champion, knew he would have to be at his best to beat Federer but his play on Centre Court was littered with errors.
The Swiss will now face second seed Andy Roddick for a rematch of last year's final.
Hewitt, the last person to win the men's singles at the All England Club before Federer, is known to be a fighter, but with the Swiss on the other side of the net his game crumbled.
"I'm really pleased to be in my third final," said Federer, who has also won 35 consecutive matches on grass since his defeat by Mario Ancic in the first round here in 2002.
"I can't believe I did it so smoothly in straight sets. It's a huge relief, but there's still two days of pressure."
Seeking his fifth major title, the top-ranked Federer rarely ventured to the net, content to win with a dominating serve and pinpoint groundstrokes.
Federer's first serve was below its best, but Hewitt could make no impression on it at the start of the second set.
Hewitt gift-wrapped Federer a break in the fifth game with four amateurish backhands and the world number one needed no second invitation to stroll into a two-set lead.
Hewitt is not a player who tends to give up easily, however, and he at least made Federer perspire in the third.
At 2-2 he had a rare sniff of a service break, but an over-rule went against him at deuce after a dipping Federer forehand caught the outer edge of the baseline.
Desperate for a foothold, Hewitt raised the intensity of his play to keep just ahead of Federer, who coolly dug himself out of a hole at 0-30 when serving to stay in the set in the 12th game.
"If I could have squeezed out the third set, then you start fresh for the fourth set again," said a dejected Hewitt, who has now lost 15 consecutive sets to Federer.
That proved to be Hewitt's last chance. The Australian netted a backhand and served a double fault to trail 1-4 in the tiebreak and although he clawed it back to 4-5, Federer had victory in his sights.
He faced only one break point and took the third set even with Hewitt playing his best.
Hewitt's counter-punching percentage game may be too good for virtually every other player but against Federer the sums just did not add up.
The Swiss can defend as well as Hewitt, moves just as well, serves at a similar pace, but unlike Hewitt, he can launch devastating attacks from any part of the court with a dazzling array of spins and angles.
The Wimbledon seeding policy meant Hewitt was demoted to third seed below Roddick -- a decision that put him on collision course with the Swiss a match sooner than he would have liked.
"On paper it should have been the final," Hewitt observed.
The Australian said he will go home and work even harder to try and bridge the gap.
"I've got to bide my time, keep grinding away and try and look for the answers I guess," said the 24-year-old after his eighth successive defeat by Federer.
"I felt like I've lifted my game over the last 18 months or so. I've got no doubt that I feel like I'm the second best player going around right now. It's just that the best player is pretty bloody good."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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