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Del Potro v Hewitt as it happened

Wimbledon

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 5-7 Hewitt
Last-gasp gambling from Delpo now - a forehand battered wide, and another near-winner which Hewitt somehow gets to and returns with crippling interest. Match point - double-fault! That first serve has been shonky for a while, but that's gotta sting. Will it cost him? Will it heck, mate - the next one fizzes in, Delpo can only mis-hit long, and Hewitt is there. He falls to his knees and roars at the unblemished heavens - righteous delight from the 28-year-old, and the yellow shirts and Mrs H rise as one to adore him.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 5-6* Hewitt
You just knew Hewitt would throw some haymakers back in this game, and he does - wonderful forehand lob, Delpo sliced backhand into the net for two instant break-back points. Delpo saves the first with a thumping serve - oi-yoi-yoi, his follow-up forehand dies dismally at the net. Hewitt screams like a man who's just stubbed his toe, but he's beaming inside - another chance to hold for the match.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 *5-5 Hewitt
Big serve and volley from Hewitt - 15-0. He duffs another simple volley but Delpo does the same with his forehand - 30-15. Is that long from Delpo? Hewitt thinks so, but he's wrong - 30-30. Lordy - another error makes it 30-40, and a calamitously clouted forehand hands the break back on a silver salver. As huge tennis fan Lenny Kravtiz told us, it ain't over til it's over...

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 4-5* Hewitt
Hangdog expression now from Delpo. He holds, but it's break now or bus home. Limo home. Personal helicopter with foot-spa and complimentary peanuts.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 *3-5 Hewitt
His back-to-front baseball cap darkened with sweat, Hewitt bounces the ball on the baseline and winds up his serve. Fantastic counter-punching at 30-30 - Delpo hit the perfect approach shot and was climbing all over the net, but Hewitt's running forehand pass dips over the divider and leaves him nose-down on the turf next to the spinning ball. Delpo then works a put-a-way to hustle a break point - oh, saved with terrier temerity by Hewitt. When the Argentine crashes a forehand long, Hewitt's home - and just one more game from the match.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 3-4* Hewitt
Anger in those Delpo groundstrokes now. He thrashes two forehands fast and flat into Hewitt's no-go zone, but the bigger picture remains an unpleasant sight for him. Becs flicks a strand of hair from her face and watches on with pursed lips.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 *2-4 Hewitt
Could this be the chance? Hewitt goes long with a hurried forehand to make it 30-30 and then slams his first serve well wide. Delpo takes a step forward - but that's poor, an ugly backhand chop into the lower reaches of the net. His next service return sails high wide and uglier, and the little glimmer is closed out.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 2-3* Hewitt
A man in the crowd fires up one of those little hand-held electric fans and buzzes it dangerously close to the tip of his nose as Delpo puts away an overhead at the net at the second time of asking. The Argentine goes to his seat and buries his face in the lush confines of his Wimbledon towel.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 *1-3 Hewitt
Even the net-cord seems to be against the Argentine. Hewitt is early on a volley but the tape tips the ball just into Delpo territory. A Hewitt hand goes up in apology. A big serve out wide can only be framed into the bleaching turf, and Hewitt is just three games from the biggest upset in the men's draw this year.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 1-2* Hewitt
Not a cloud visible for miles in any direction, save for the heavy grey ones hovering just above Delpo's head. At last a hold - what can he do now on the Hewitt serve to snatch back the break?

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 *0-2 Hewitt
Delpo now cutting a forlorn figure in the bright glare of Centre. He's certain Hewitt's serve is long, but the shaven-headed umpo dismisses the complaint. He's not been past the second round in either of his previous Wimbledon outings, and it'll need an almighty turnaround now if he's to march on any further.

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 0-1* Hewitt
Worrying stats for Delpo - he's only been in four five-set matches, and while he's won two of those, he's never come from two sets down. It's almost a whole lot more worrying too as Hewitt snatches two break points - saved after lusty backcourt trading. What a lob that is from Hewitt though - a trademark roller that climbs over the enormous limbs of Delco before diving to the deck to bite the back end of the baseline. When Delpo buries his second serve halfway down the net, another break has slipped away. Trouble.

SECOND SET

Del Potro 3-6 5-7 Hewitt
Gasps around court as Hewitt begins with a double. A lame backhand makes it 0-30 and ups the Delpometer - but that's wide from the Argentine, and Hewitt is back at 30-30. Deep approach, smacked away overhead - set point, but that's a flopper of a second serve and Delpo double-fists a backhand winner away to still the celebrations. Hewitt flays a top-spin forehand long - he asks for the challenge, but the line-judge was spot on. To be honest, you wouldn't want to challenge her at much - and certainly not an arm-wrestle or fist-fight. Big chance now for Delpo - aagggh! Duffs a sit-up second serve straight into the net. That's the last chance Lleyton will give him, too - powerful forehands, smashed put-a-way, two set lead. How does he react? "COOOMMME OOONNNNN!"

Del Potro 3-6 5-6* Hewitt
Hello - is the Argentine wobbling just when he needs to be strong like the ox? A backhand flopped into the net suddenly sees him at a surprise break point - Hewitt attacks the serve, driving successive shots deeper into the Delpo forehand corner and dropping to his knee for a screaming fist-pump when Delpo nets. Stolen break - happy applause from Becs in the Box, and the yellow-shirts are jumping around like fleas in a mosh-pit.

Del Potro 3-6 *5-5 Hewitt
Here's the good news for Lleyton and Webber: the Aussie battler holds his nerve at 30-30 to punch away crisp volleys and draw level. The bad news: Hewitt is the only Australian to start in the men's draw this year, which makes that the lowest Aussie representation in men's Grand Slam open-era history. One to remember should the Ashes go up the Swannee.

Del Potro 3-6 5-4* Hewitt
Scorching out there now. Ball-boys busy themselves with green and purple umbrellas to provide parasol protection for the players at the changeover. Delpo thrashes through his service game - Hewitt must hold to stay in the set.

Del Potro 3-6 *4-4 Hewitt
Feels like we're in the phony war period before a tie-break tussle here. Hewitt holds with as spectators fan themselves furiously all around, in the fashion of court gossips at a pre-revolution Versailles ball.

Del Potro 3-6 4-3* Hewitt
Up goes the tempo. Del Potro holds in untroubled fashion as F1 driver Mark Webber watches on from the VIP slots. Good compatriot support.

Del Potro 3-6 *3-3 Hewitt
The Hewitt serve looking a lot more solid now than it did in the first set. Delpo, who looks a little like Derek Zoolander fed through the same stretching machine that did for Mike Teevee in CatCF, can only watch with mournful air-swings.

Del Potro 3-6 3-2* Hewitt
Really warming up now, this match. There's a splendid exchange of cut and thrust from the baseline that ends with Hewitt drilling a flat forehand cross-court for the winner, but Delpo stiffens his resolve and secures the hold with two rapid rippers of his own.

Del Potro 3-6 *2-2 Hewitt
Delighted chuckles in the crowd as Delpo chases in a dropper and hurdles the net in his follow-through. The reaction around Centre is so side-splittingly positive that you should expect to see Hollywood comedies based around similar moves before the year is out. Even the line-judge who trots out to check the height of the net receives the sort of welcome you'd expect for Monty Python encoring. Hewitt holds with sweetly-constructed rallies that gradually squeeze the life out of Delpo.

Del Potro 3-6 2-1* Hewitt
Delpo stalks the baseline with a glower on his swarthy chops. Hewitt has a pop at a couple of rapid serves but there's speed and spit all over them - unimpeachable hold.

Del Potro 3-6 *1-1 Hewitt
Fast-forward hold from Hewitt. He might be out at 56 in the rankings, but that's all last year's hip injury and nothing to do with his form this week. The two men in this year's men's draw who have won the title before? Too easy - Lleyton and Fed. Goran's gone, Pete's got his slippers on.

Del Potro 3-6 1-0* Hewitt
Super volleying from the 2002 champ, scampering in behind a deep approach to punch a high one away with a bellowed exhortation. The sleeveless Delpo reaches for one of his battering boomers to get level - and then another to hold. Still a few spare seats knocking around Centre. Stewards in Army fatigues sternly forbid latecomers from wandering into sight-lines pre-changeover.

FIRST SET

Del Potro 3-6 Hewitt
A solitary cloud shaped like a cockatoo drifts slowly across the deep blue sky. Hewitt glares across the net, leans back into his serve and batters his way to 40-0. Three set points. A diving volley at the net flies wide, but it's the briefest of postponement - Delpo can't get the next one back, and the Lleyton Legion salute their hero as the set is sealed.

Del Potro 3-5* Hewitt
Delpo getting drawn into a baseline battle here, and Lleyton is tucking in with lip-smacking relish. Delpo winds up a brace of thrashing first serves to snuff out the danger. Disappointed yellow shirt-wearers sit down with cheers still-born on their lips.

Del Potro *2-5 Hewitt
Two raking backhands from Delpo and all Lleyton's hard work is in danger of being tossed away. He saves a break point a cunning which-way? wrong-footer but is then dismantled by a series of devastating Delpo forehands - another break point. Big serve out to the backhand side - framed into the gully region, where a panicked woman eating a sandwich spills the chance. Another fizzer of a serve is blocked into the net by Delpo - the break is maintained, and there's another capitalised come on from you-know-who.

Del Potro 2-4* Hewitt
Mrs Hewitt, aka Bec Cartwright, aka Hayley from Home And Away, shifts forward in her seat as a HawkEye challenge sets up a break point. Hewitt tears into the return, Delpo nets a lame approacher and Hewitt "COOOMMMEE OOONN"s as the break goes his way. Standing roars from the yellow-shirted hordes.

Del Potro *2-3 Hewitt
Pressure on the Hewserve. Delpo creams a dreamy forehand right onto the baseline, and Lleyton is almost knocked off his feet. Break point -saved when Delpo goes a touch long with another forehand raker. Hewitt can't get off the hook, however - another break point, another saved by default as Delpo puts too much mustard on that forehand hotdog. "COME OOOONNN!" shouts Lleyton as he puts away an overhead to save another, and there's a fistpump waved at part-time coach Tony Roche in the VIP seats as a Delpo backhand wide seals the game.

Del Potro 2-2* Hewitt
This is Delpo's first grass-court tournament since Wimbledon last year, but there's not too much rust on the cogs - Hewitt can't get close to the serve. The Royal Box is also housing someone called Doreen Guntrip, although I don't know what she looks like. Is she one of the Guildford Guntrips?

Del Potro *1-2 Hewitt
Super pick-up from Hewitt, taking a scorcher off his toes and pinging it back to Delpo's stretching backhand. Usual trademark grouping of yellow-shirted Hewittettes on Centre, restrained so far but surely warming pipes.

Del Potro 1-1* Hewitt
Not such easy peas for Delpo. A double-faulty leaves him at 0-30, long-armed serving wrests back the advantage. Hewitt is pummelled by another and can only slice a backhand wide - level pegs. Now then - who's in the Royal Box today? That looks like Jimmy Tarbuck, and if that's not Elaine Paige then Caroline Cheese is Barbara Dickson.

Del Potro *0-1 Hewitt
If you're looking for omens, there aren't many - this is the first meeting between these two. Depending which way you look at it, Lleyton's either got eight years experience over Delpo or is facing a man with a body eight years fresher. Steady hold from Hewitt first up - aggressive groundstrokes, solid serving, tasty put-a-ways at the tape.

* denotes next to serve

1300: Here come the players - the gangly Delpo dwarfing his Aussie opponent. Nothing but white in the Delpo wardrobe for SW19, of course - no repeat of the fluro effort that seared Parisien eyeballs at Roland Garros last month. If you didn't see it, he looked a bumblebee off to an electro night in Hoxton.


1250: Another scorcher at Wimbledon, if you haven't glimpsed the telecast pictures. Just went for a quick lap of the outside courts and it's like St Tropez. You can't move for giant sunglasses and inverted bottles of Ambre Solaire.


1245: Now - I know we're due an outbreak of Andymonium/Murraymalaise later, but let's have no talk of "warm-ups" and "first courses" as Juan Martin and Lleyton do battle on Centre. Disrespectful.



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