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Hewitt hails San Jose victor

20/02/2006 05:48:18 PM Comments (0)

Lleyton Hewitt had high praise for Andy Murray after the Scottish teenager beat him for the San Jose Open title in California on Sunday.

Murray claimed his first ATP Tour title in his second final when he beat Hewitt 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3), leaving the former world No.1 from Australia without a title in 13 months.

Ranked 514th little more than a year ago, 18-year-old Murray hadn't beaten a top 10 player two days ago but now has two huge scalps having ousted another former No.1, Andy Roddick, 7-5 7-5 in the semis.

Hewitt has 24 titles to his name including two US Opens and Wimbledon, but he hasn't added to that tally since his victory in Sydney in January 2005.

Poor serving contributed to Hewitt's downfall as he double-faulted 11 times, often at crucial moments, and put only 44 per cent of his first serves in play.

"I put myself under a lot of pressure," Hewitt said. "I just wasn't getting those cheap points off my serve."

But Hewitt gave plenty of credit to Murray who mixed in impressive drop shots along with powerful groundstrokes in the final set to keep him off-balance.

"I guess there haven't been too many 18-year-olds in the last five years or so with that kind of skill," said Hewitt.

"He hits the ball extremely well, he mixes it up extremely well. He can dictate when he wants to, but he is also very good on the defence.

"I think he's a guy who's confident out there and that's what it takes to make it on the tour at a young age.

"That's why Rafael Nadal has done so well, because he's confident and he won't take a back seat to anyone.

"Murray's going to continue to get better and better in the next few years and people will see a lot more of him.

"He's a great prospect for British tennis."

Murray will move into the top 50 rankings and was relishing his next events after his breakthrough, starting in Memphis this week.

"This has been perfect this week," Murray said. "Anybody who wins their first ATP tournament against two guys as good as Andy and Lleyton is going to have confidence. I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks."

After making a slow start, Murray appeared on course for a mauling as the Australian pushed the error-prone teenager all over the court to cruise through the opening set.

However, the Briton's never-say-die attitude paid dividends in the second set as he raised his game up a notch to level the match and take control of the contest.

Adeptly picking off Hewitt's serves, Murray found his rhythm from the service line and only attacked at opportune moments.

He broke Hewitt three times in the second set and so frustrated the 24-year-old Australian that Hewitt double-faulted on set point.

Murray also had the early edge in the third set, leading 2-0 then 4-2 before winning in the tie-breaker.

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