Hewitt wins Masters in five sets - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hewitt wins Masters in five sets

By Darren Walton 17/11/2002 10:22:33 PM Comments (0)

World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt crowned another glorious year with a lion-hearted display to win the prestigious Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The young Wimbledon champion earned every cent of the $US1.4 million ($A2.49 million) he pocketed after twice coming from a break of serve down in the final set to deny Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5 7-5 2-6 2-6 6-4 at The New Shanghai International Expo Centre.

The thrilling encounter lasted three hours and 52 minutes and came after his three-hour, three-set semi-final win over Roger Federer 24 hours earlier.

Hewitt, having clinched his second straight year-end No.1 ranking on Thursday night when Andre Agassi failed to progress past the round-robin stages of the $US3.75 million ($A6.67 million) extravaganza, also became the first player since Pete Sampras in 1997 to win back-to-back season-ending championships.

And Hewitt's triumph completed a memorable double for the 21-year-old Australian and his Belgian girlfriend Kim Clijsters, who took out the women's season-ending championship in Los Angeles on Monday.

As he did in 2001, Hewitt ended the year with a tour-best 61-15 win-loss match record and equal tour-best - with Agassi - five titles.

His yearly on-court earnings totalled $US3,752,719 ($A6.68 million), plus a $US866,666 ($A1.54 million) bonus for winning 2001 Champions Race and fulfilling his commitments as world No.1 during the 2002 season.

Almost 10,000 Chinese fans paid between $150 and $200 for a ticket to the final of the richest and biggest international sporting event held in the People's Republic.

If they came to see the world's premier player grind another opponent into submission, they went home happy.

Hewitt trailed Ferrero 5-3 in the first set but, as ever, lifted when the chips were down to reel off seven games in a row to take the set and skip to a 3-0 lead in the second.

A lapse allowed the Spanish No.1 to break back and level at 3-3 before Hewitt again raised his game to heap pressure on Ferrero.

Serving at 5-6 to stay in the set, Ferrero volleyed long and double-faulted to gift Hewitt two set points.

Hewitt converted his second chance when Ferrero, not for the first time in the match, finished on the wrong end of a long baseline rally.

Ferrero upped the ante in the back-court slugfest to take the third set with service breaks in the first and fifth games.

Finding more sting on his groundstrokes than the tiring Hewitt, Ferrero repeated the dose in the fourth with breaks in the first and the seventh games to send the match into a decider.

The 22-year-old French Open runner-up had Hewitt on the ropes after again breaking the world No.1's serve in the opening game of the fifth.

But the never-say-die Australian rallied to break back immediately, only to drop his serve again, after saving three break points, to fall behind 2-1.

But having been up two sets to love, and boasting a 16-6 record in finals, tennis's fiercest competitor hadn't come this far to lose.

Again, he found the energy and nerve to break back to level at 3-3 and then clinched the title when on his second match point with a brilliant backhand lob that the helpless Ferrero could only look on and watch - and applaud.

Ferrero would console himself with a cheque for $US700,000 ($A1.25 million) and a career-high world No.3 ranking.

He is the first Spaniard since dual French Open champion Sergi Bruguera (1993-94) to finish in the top five in consecutive years.

Hewitt telephoned Clijsters immediately after the match to tell her of his victory.

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