Monday, August 12, 2002

Hewitt unable to recover after Moya puts him in a spin cycle

Number-crunching gives Spaniard shot of confidence

By Michael Perry,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Carlos Moya had done a little homework, and this is what his scouting report on Lleyton Hewitt told him: The world's No. 1-ranked player had lost eight times this year going into Sunday's final at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

Lleyton Hewitt led 5-2 in the second set before Moya broke him twice.
(AP photo)
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        Six of those losses came to players from Spain or Argentina. The list includes Moya, Alberto Martin, Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Canas and Felix Mantilla.

        Now it's nine losses, with three coming against Moya, who beat Hewitt 7-5, 7-6 (5) Sunday.

        “It looks like he doesn't like that game,” Moya said. “I knew I was going to have a chance. He feels better when the ball comes flat, like (Andre) Agassi. So I tried to put a lot of spin.”

        Said Hewitt: “I think I've beaten a lot of them as well. Obviously, the guys I've lost to have been class players. Moya is a former world No.1 and when he's playing his best is a definite top-five. That's no bad loss.”

        After dropping the first set 7-5, Hewitt was well on his way to evening the match and sending it to a third set. He broke Moya's serve for the second consecutive time and was ahead 5-2 and on his own serve.

Carlos Moya slams a forehand.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        Then Moya broke him right back. Moya held serve. He broke Hewitt again.

        All of a sudden, they were headed for a tiebreaker.

        “I didn't make too many first serves, but I thought other than that, I didn't hit the ball that bad,” Hewitt said.

        Moya scored five straight points to take a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker, then Hewitt stormed back to tie it at 5. Hewitt double-faulted, and Moya closed it out with a service winner.

        “I tried to get into as many rallies as possible to give myself a chance,” Hewitt said. “As soon as he gets around and whacks that forehand, he's on the offense. And he's an extremely tough guy to put back on the defense from that position.”

        Hewitt, who won $206,000, might end up forfeiting half of that. He was fined Tuesday by the ATP Tour for skipping an interview with ESPN. The 21-year-old Australian said he will appeal.

        Hewitt was competing in just his second tournament since winning his first Wimbledon championship. He lost in the first round in Toronto (to Mantilla) two weeks ago and Sunday lost in the final of an ATP Tour event for the first time since Nov. 5, 2000 (Tennis Masters Series Stuttgart to Wayne Ferreira). He had won 10 consecutive finals.

        The defending U.S. Open champion is playing in Indianapolis this week, then will take a week off before the Open, which starts Aug. 26.

        “I've gone up another level since Toronto,” Hewitt said. “That's all I can really ask for out of a tournament. Sure, I'm disappointed. I would have loved to win another tournament like this. But you sit back tomorrow and you go through what your preparation's going to be the next two weeks going into the Open. It's going in the right direction at least.”


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