Hewitt shoots for title three-peat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hewitt shoots for title three-peat

By Greg Heakes 10/03/2004 01:15:17 PM Comments (0)

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt will have a tougher challenge this year as he seeks an unprecedented third straight Indian Wells title at the $US2.8 million ($A3.7 million) ATP Masters Series event.

Hewitt, who is 14-1 in 2004, faces 19 of the top 20 players in an expanded men's draw.

The 96-player draw includes world No. 1 Roger Federer (16-1) of Switzerland, Americans Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, 2003 runner-up Gustavo Kuerten (14-4), Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero (9-4), and Australian Open finalist Marat Safin.

The men's competition, which begins on Friday, has been increased to 96 players from 64 last year.

Hewitt won't face top seed Federer in the final. That's because they both landed in the same side of the draw and could meet as early as the quarter-finals.

There is a chance of a rematch of last year's finalists Kuerten and Hewitt, who are in opposite sides of the draw.

Heat could be a factor as temperatures hit 33 degrees Celsius (90F) on Monday. Mildly cooler weather is expected next week, more in line with the snow-capped mountains in the scenic Palm Springs area.

Interesting first round matchups include: Spanish teenage sensation Rafael Nadal against American Lars Burgsmuller, Indian Wells runner-up in 1993 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa against Czech Igor Andreevc and Germany's Tommy Haas against Swede Thomas Enqvist.

There could be an early round rematch of last week's Scottsdale final between Germany's Nicolas Kiefer and American Vince Spadea.

The pair will meet in the second round if Kiefer beats world No. 72 Flavio Saretta of Brazil as expected.

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