Olympic Tennis: Novak Djokovic Defeats Lleyton Hewitt to Advance to Quarterfinal

Matthew DickerContributor IIIAugust 1, 2012

Serbia's Novak Djokovic defeated Australia's Lleyton Hewitt on Wednesday to advance to his second consecutive Olympic quarterfinals.

Hewitt got off to a strong start in the first set, topping Djokovic 6-4. But Djokovic took clear control in the second set, using pinpoint accuracy and his dominant baseline play to keep Hewitt consistently on the run in a 7-5 effort. Djokovic quickly dispatched Hewitt in the third set, 6-1, to earn his pass to the quarterfinal round.

Djokovic has been one of the three most dominant competitors in the men's game (along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) since he reached his first Grand Slam final at the 2007 U.S. Open. Djokovic first began to gain widespread attention after reaching the quarterfinal at the 2006 French Open the week after his 19th birthday; since that tournament, he has failed to reach the third round of a Slam final only once and has has collected five Grand Slam titles and three Grand Slam second-place finishes.

Djokovic won the bronze medal in men's singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, losing to gold-medal winner Nadal in the semifinals but topping American James Blake in the bronze medal match.

Lleyton Hewitt is a decade removed from his reign as the brightest young star in the men's game. He won the 2001 U.S. Open at age 20, the 2002 Wimbledon at age 21 and was the youngest man to ever be ranked No. 1 when he achieved the distinction at the age of 20.

He won 25 ATP singles tournaments between his first in 1998 (at age 16) and 2006, and two Tennis Masters Cups. He also picked up the 2000 U.S. Open doubles title with partner Max Mirnyi.

Since the start of 2007, Hewitt has been on much shakier ground. He has won just four ATP tournaments and has only reached one Grand Slam quarterfinals. Though he reached the finals in a strong showing at this year's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, Hewitt has not won an ATP Tour event since June 2010.