Sunday, August 8, 2004

10th-seeded Hewitt gaining momentum

Advances to final and has yet to lose a set

By Dustin Dow
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - The way Lleyton Hewitt is playing in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters this week resembles more of the former No. 1 Hewitt than the player who had slipped to No. 17 at the end of last year.

Up to No. 10 this week, Hewitt has breezed past five straight opponents in advancing to today's final on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

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He was barely challenged Saturday in beating Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2 in 54 minutes.

"I've had matches this year where I've played as well as this," Hewitt said. "I'm just putting it together. I like the surface here, and like being able to string matches like this together day in and day out, especially against the three opponents I had from the second round through the quarterfinal."

Hewitt hasn't lost a set during this tournament, and his serve has been broken just once in 47 service games.

"The ball was coming so fast, and it was hard for me to get used to this level of ball," Robredo said of Hewitt's dominance. "I think he was very superior than me, and that's why he's in the final."

This is his first Tennis Masters Series final of the year, but Hewitt has reached the quarterfinals in six of his past seven tournaments. His only early exit occurred last week in Toronto in the round of 16 after he took off three weeks following Wimbledon.

"I feel like I've been playing pretty good tennis for the last few months, you know, for a while now," Hewitt said. "So I don't think it's just freshness after having a couple weeks off after Wimbledon. At Wimbledon, I felt like I was playing as well as I am here. I don't think there's been a huge difference in just a couple weeks."

As he moves his way up the ATP rankings, Hewitt said he isn't overeager to reclaim No. 1, which he lost in June 2003.

At 23, Hewitt is scheduling his tournaments to prepare himself for the Grand Slams, the next of which is the U.S. Open beginning Aug. 30.

"Well, if you get to No. 1, it's awesome," Hewitt said. "There's no doubt about that. But I've been No. 1 for a long time, and you know, at the end of the day, if you win Slams, you'll get No. 1. ...

"Roger Federer is not worried about chasing No. 1. He gets it because he's won two majors in one year."

Path to the final

Lleyton Hewitt won the following matches to reach today's Western & Southern singles final:

• def. Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 6-4

• def. Gustavo Kuerten 6-3, 6-4

• def. Tim Henman 6-1, 6-4

• def. Marat Safin 6-4, 6-4

• def. Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2



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