Hewitt wins Rotterdam tennis event
ROTTERDAM (The Netherlands): Lleyton Hewitt lifted his second title in three tournaments this season, fighting back to defeat second seed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-7 (1/7), 7-5, 6-4 Sunday for victory at the 842,000-euro ($1.06 million) Rotterdam World Tennis event.
Hewitt, the world number 13 now primed for a move back into the top ten, needed two hours, 40 minutes to earn victory after losing his first and only set of a productive week at the Ahoy stadium. Hewitt started the year with a trophy at Sydney and suffered his only loss of the season in the fourth round of the Australian Open against world number one Roger Federer. The Australian, who turns 23 on Tuesday, earned 161,000 euros ($204,000) while Ferrero picked up 85,140 euro (108,000).
The match was a re-run of a Davis Cup clash in the final last December, when Hewitt also prevailed against the Spaniard. Ferrero had done it tough all week, needing to beat three Dutch opponents and playing in five tie-breaks in his first four matches. Hewitt now stands 5-3 in their career series and joined fiancee Kim Clijsters as a trophy winner on Sunday after she triumphed in Antwerp just 100 kilometres to the south of this container port city.
Hewitt has now won 21 career titles from 28 finals, including a pair of Grand Slams. “I’m very pleased with how my game has been improving all week here,” said the Australian. “It’s great to play in another final and win it. “Juan Carlos played well and really made me work.”
Hewitt took victory as he broke the Spaniard after Ferrero had saved a match point. But a forehand return long ended it for the Spaniard. Ferrero showed at the start that the match would be a contest of wills as the Roland Garros holder bounced back from a break of serve in the opening game.
The Spaniard forced Hewitt to save a pair of break points in the second game, which the Australian managed to take a 2-0 lead. But Ferrero got his chance in the fourth game as he squared the match, setting up a break point with a cross-court winner and converting with a winner for 2-2. The pair continued to test each other as the set wound its way inevitably to a tie-breaker, where Ferrero assumed command. The 24-year-old Spaniard profitted from three consecutive Hewitt unforced errors and fired over an ace for 5-0 before the Australian had a chance to react.
Hewitt finally got on the scoreboard 1-5, but produced an error on the next point which gave Ferrero a handful of set points. Only one of his five was needed with the Spaniard collecting the set after 57 minutes with a crisp backhand winner, leaving Hewitt to contemplate two double-faults and no return winners from his usually reliable game.
The second set stayed strictly on serve, with Hewitt getting out of jail from two more break points to hold 4-3 in a marathon seventh game. That fight-back gave the sixth-seeded Australian strength and he secured the set five games later with a break of the Spaniard. —AFP