Hewitt claims Djokovic used gamesmanship in tight match

A frustrated Lleyton Hewitt questions the behaviour of his Wimbledon conqueror, suggesting the Serb made an unnecessary request for on-court medical treatment.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after a 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Lleyton Hewitt.
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LONDON // A frustrated Lleyton Hewitt last night questioned the behaviour of Novak Djokovic, his Wimbledon conqueror, suggesting the Serb made an unnecessary request for on-court medical treatment. Djokovic, the third seed and a former Australian Open champion, called for the trainer three games into the third set of their fourth-round match at a time when the momentum of a tight match appeared to be shifting towards Hewitt.

Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion who was seeded 15 after slipping down the rankings in the aftermath of hip and other injury problems, duly claimed that third set but the interruption helped Djokovic recompose himself and gain his second wind to secure a 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory. "He's always got something [wrong]," Hewitt said pointedly about his opponent's timely time-out. "But he looked fine in the fourth [set]. He looked pretty comfortable at two sets to love so I suppose it was a little surprising what he did."

Djokovic, the world No 3, was delighted to be in the quarter-finals of this event for the third time, but was indignant at the possible slur on his character. "Everybody has an opinion," he said. "I don't know why people think that I am always having something which is absolutely wrong because I have not asked for the physio for a long time. If somebody wants to say something about that then I don't really care."

Djokovic, who appeared to have trouble breathing when a tight match was in the balance, spoke of "a little bit of stomach discomfort" which, he maintained, caused him to lose focus. "The doctor helped me out and everything was well after that. "It could have gone either way at that stage. That's why he [Hewitt] is such a big champion. He never stops fighting. "I didn't know what was going to happen right up to the last moment."

Djokovic faces Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan tomorrow, the surprise winner of the latest of Wimbledon's series of marathon matches. He overcame the fifth-seeded Andy Roddick in a battle that lasted almost five hours. Roddick, who experienced the pain of a 16-14 final set defeat in last year's final against Roger Federer was on the wrong side of a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 9-7 verdict. Meanwhile, Federer continued his march towards a seventh title as he cruised past Jurgen Melzer in straight sets.

The Swiss player next faces Tomas Berdych, while Robin Soderling is also in the quarter-finals. The Swedish sixth seed defeated Spain's David Ferrer 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, and he will face Rafael Nadal, who cruised past Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. In the women's draw, Caroline Wozniacki, the No 3 seed from Denmark, suffered a humiliating 6-2, 6-0 loss to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

The Danish player looked badly out of sorts as she was humbled in a match that lasted 46 minutes. Serena Williams, the No 1 seed, remains on track to defend her title as she held off the challenge of Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, with a 7-6, 6-4 victory. She will take on Li Na, the Chinese ninth seed, today. Venus Williams also advanced to the quarter-finals, defeating Jarmila Groth of Australia 7-6, 6-4. wjohnson@thenational.ae