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World Sport

Hewitt clinches world indoor title

Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt's win lifts him back into the ATP top 10.

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuters) -- Lleyton Hewitt trampled on an exhausted Juan Carlos Ferrero to capture the World Indoor tournament with a 6-7 7-5 6-4 victory.

The win ensured a double celebration for the Australian sixth seed with his Belgian fiancee Kim Clijsters winning at the Antwerp Diamond Games. (FULL STORY)

By lifting his 21st singles title, Hewitt also booked his passage back into the world's top 10 when the new ATP rankings were released on Monday.

"This is my first trip here and it's an incredible feeling to win here on my first attempt," the Adelaide baseliner told the crowd.

Ferrero had been on a quest to avenge his defeat by Hewitt in the Davis Cup final in November but from the outset he faced an uphill task.

The Spaniard appeared to have little left in his reserves after playing 124 games -- 43 more than Hewitt -- to reach the final.

He had won his last three matches in third-set tiebreaks and the signs of exhaustion were clear from the start.

The steely determination Ferrero had shown in his previous matches seemed to have evaporated into the grey clouds of the Dutch port city when he tamely surrendered his serve in the opening game of the contest.

Belted winners

However, Ferrero initially refused to be fazed as he knew he had the goods to last the distance.

Hewitt prowled the baseline and belted down the winners to take a 2-0 lead only to see Ferrero level the score a couple of games later.

With the players unable to break the deadlock, the set headed into a tiebreak.

The Ferrero juggernaut simply overran Hewitt in the decider, the Australian not even registering on the scoreboard until the sixth point.

A volleyed winner and an 185-kph ace combined with numerous unforced errors by Hewitt presented Ferrero with five set points.

The Spaniard needed only one and sealed it with a breathtaking passing shot that even left Hewitt applauding.

The seventh game of the second set became a real test of nerves when Hewitt was stretched to seven deuces.

Ferrero let two break points go begging before an immensely relieved and fist-pumping Hewitt held on after the Spaniard floated a backhand wide.

That proved to be the turning point as Hewitt kept Ferrero at bay and leveled matters after one hour 53 minutes with a break in the 12th game.

Hewitt kept hunting for an opening to finish the contest in the third set and found it in the 10th game.

Ferrero finally bowed out after two hours and 39 minutes, handing Hewitt the trophy with a backhand error.

Hewitt greeted the moment by falling flat on his back, satisfied with the thought that his name will join the impressive list of winners that adorns the hoardings at the Ahoy arena.



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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