Thursday, August 5, 2004

Hewitt takes step forward


Beats Kuerten, continues march toward U.S. Open

By Dustin Dow
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Lleyton Hewitt defeated Gustavo Kuerten 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16. Hewitt, No. 10 in the world, won the 2001 U.S. Open.
The Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN
MASON - Lleyton Hewitt has found some consistency on the court. Now he's trying to set up himself for another run at a Grand Slam title.

The former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion advanced to the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters Wednesday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Gustavo Kuerten on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

For No. 10 seed Hewitt, this summer has been steady but unspectacular. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the French Open and Wimbledon before losing to the eventual champions in both tournaments. Last week in Canada, he reached the round of 16.

"I feel like since the U.S. Open last year, I feel like I've been playing pretty well," Hewitt said. "I really haven't played too many bad matches.

"Obviously Grand Slams, that's what you make the sacrifices for, to win the Grand Slams. Try and win as many as possible. Looking at my schedule, everything goes around the Grand Slams and Davis Cup."

To avoid fatigue, Hewitt declined an opportunity to play for Australia in the Olympics. After the W&S Masters, he will focus entirely on the U.S. Open, which begins at the end of August.

Part of his decision to skip the Olympics was based on wanting to avoid the travel between the United States and Greece in a short time span.

"For me, it's better preparation for the U.S. Open," Hewitt said. "I think the worst thing to do would be to fly over there and then come back and try to play in the U.S. Open."

It was only two years ago when Hewitt won Wimbledon, his last Grand Slam title. But a frustrating season in 2003 in which he won just two tournaments cost him his spot atop the ATP rankings. He entered the W&S Masters at No. 10.

Whether he gets back to No. 1 is a secondary, however, to reclaiming the U.S. Open title he won in 2001.

"If you win Grand Slams, you put yourself in position to be No. 1. I'm not the kind of guy who's going to go out and play every week to get my ranking one or two spots higher."

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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