Top seed Lleyton Hewitt ruthlessly dismissed rising American talent Robby Ginepri 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the second round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati Tuesday. Hewitt won in just 42 minutes - the fastest match time on the ATP circuit this year.
Hewitt, the youngest year-end world No.1 in ATP history, quickly erased memories of his shock first-round loss in Toronto last week with an emphatic victory. He won six of six break points against an overwhelmed Ginepri and did not face a break point on his own service despite putting just 35 per cent of first serves into play.
"He struggled a lot, but I just kept balls in play," the top seed said of his 19-year-old American opponent. "I've practiced with him before and he hit the ball well. Then today, he just went out on the court and looked very nervous right from the start."
Hewitt, who reached the semifinals here last year shortly before winning the US Open, next plays Italian Davide Sanguinetti, who beat Jonas Bjorkman in three sets.
Top seed Lleyton Hewitt so far has played 17 games at this year's Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. And not only has he won all of them, but he hasn't yet faced a break point. Early Wednesday, the fiery Australian only spent 18 minutes on court to advance to the Round of 16, as his opponent, Davide Sanguinetti, retired after dropping the first five games.
"I just basically had to walk on court today," said Hewitt, who fell in the first round last week in Toronto and is seeking his first Cincinnati title. "...Obviously, it would have been a lot nicer to have won properly. [With a] big tournament like this, obviously matches are only going to get tougher and tougher from now on."
Although Sanguinetti retired with a foot injury, Hewitt's sizzling form was evident from the start of the brief second-round match on Center Court. He was equally ruthless Tuesday, as he snuffed American Ginepri 6-0, 6-0 in 41 minutes, posting the fasting match on the ATP circuit this year. Amazingly, Hewitt has only spent 59 minutes to advance two rounds at this year's Tennis Masters Series event in Cincinnati.
"Hopefully, I'm going to get some pretty tough matches, as I'm sure I'm going to in the next few days," said Hewitt, who's playing doubles here with fellow Australian Andrew Florent. "I'm pretty happy that I'm still in the doubles to get some more hitting."
Hewitt now meets Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, who defeated Hyung-Taik Lee in the second round.
Having cruised through the first two rounds without the loss of a game, the Australian soon found himself pinned back as entered unknown territory in his clash against Nieminen.
"I've never seen him play before," said the U.S. and Wimbledon champion.
"He was mixing it up well and I couldn't really work it out. It took me a while to get into the match.
"It's nice though, after having an easy time of it, to get a tough, competitive match."
Hewitt, who had spent just 59 minutes on court in his first two matches, looked out of sorts from the start against Nieminen.
Despite Hewitt's reputation for consistency, it was the Finn who looked more solid in the early stages and he made he most of the uncharacteristic errors from Hewitt.
The top seed knuckled down in the second set, breaking serve twice and holding his own with ease.
A break in the in his opening service game of the third set effectively ended any challenge from the Finn.
The bad news for Hewitt is half of the $57,000 dollars he has earned at the event so far will go to the ATP in fines.
The governing body of men's tennis is punishing Hewitt for not completing his media commitments at the event and can dock him either $20,000 or half his total prize money for the week, whichever is greater.
If Hewitt wins the tournament he could be liable for $196,000 although he plans to appeal against his punishment.
Germany's Rainer Schuettler is also through to the last eight after he beat Wimbledon semi-finalist Xavier Malisse 6-4 6-3.
Schuettler will take on Carlos Moya in the quarter-finals after the Spaniard defeated Michael Chang 6-4 6-3.
Chang's run at the Cincinnati Masters was the first time in nearly a year that he had won back-to-back matches.
Agassi and Hewitt looking forward to latest showdown
CINCINNATI, Ohio (Reuters) - Lleyton Hewitt will be attempting to turn back the clock in Friday's quarter-final against Andre Agassi, and get the better of the man he first played and beat when he was just 16 years old.
Agassi was the first major scalp of Hewitt's career when, playing in his home town of Adelaide, he beat the seven-time Grand Slam champion on the way to his first ATP title in 1998.
With that title he became the youngest man ever to lift a tournament trophy, at the age of 16 years and 10 months.
"Obviously the first win was huge back then," Hewitt said.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking for a 16-year-old to go out there and play a guy that you've looked up to for so many years and who's such a great player.
"I was really just going out there hoping to get games. I hadn't even played a professional tournament so it was a weird feeling going out there and coming off with a win. I couldn't believe it."
The pair have met five times overall, most recently in the final of San Jose in March this year, when Hewitt saved match points but won to bring his career head-to-head record to three wins to two.
"I've played well in the past against Andre and it's always been great matches. Possibly the best match of the year so far was the San Jose final so if we play another match like that the crowd will get into it," he said.
32-year-old Agassi said he couldn't wait to renew his rivalry with the man 11 years his junior.
"I think it's certainly the biggest challenge out there right now, to play the guy that's playing the best," Agassi said.
"I think it will be an exciting match, a high standard match and good for all those that come here to watch it."
Q. What was the difference today? I mean, you had some really good rallies - deep and everything - but yet you were able to just edge them out.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I was able to play the big points well, I think, towards the end of the first set. The first set was huge. You know, it's just about around an hour, I think, long. It was a long first set, and it was a grinding one. He had the advantage at the start, then I was able to peg back the momentum. I played a good game to break at 4-all. Then, you know, just didn't quite execute right at the 5-4 game, serving for it. Put in a couple of early errors. He was able to step it up. Got to 40-15. Huge three or four points there to turn it around, get the momentum back quickly. I went on and held to love the second time serving for the first set. Second set he came out and served great the first few times. From there on, it felt like I was in each one of his service games. It was very important just for me to hang in my service games. I felt I was going to get an opportunity sooner or later to try and break his.
Q. Do you think you played better ahead?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ahead?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I played pretty well getting back in the match. I was 3-love down, 15-30 in the first set. Two points there and you can pretty much kiss the first set good-bye at 4-love against Andre. So I felt like I gutsed it out. I hung in there. I didn't give him any cheap points at that stage. That was important. I was able to break straight back. The whole momentum of the match had changed where he was in charge right from the start, yet I had breakpoints the first game and I had game points in the second game. So I could have been 2-love up. Instead, I found myself an early break down.
Q. 5-all, 40-15, there had been a lot of coming and going. It seemed Andre was right with you, level at that stage. Suddenly it changed. Do you know why?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was strange. I just hung in that game. I said to myself, "I'm gonna hang in there and I'm going to try to take the initiative away from him a little bit," and I cracked two winners at 40-15. Sort of changed the whole momentum a little bit. I felt like I was starting to get on top, as I said before, at 4-all. Broke him. Served for the first set. Didn't execute the point properly. Played a bad start to that game. At 40-15, I was just able to hit two clean winners - backhand up the line and an inside-out forehand. Changed straightaway. We changed ends. The whole momentum swung again. I was able to hold to love the next game. In the second set, he came early, he came at me again strong. You know he's going to, he's such a great player and a great competitor out there. He didn't give me anything early. He was serving a lot better, I felt, at the start of the second set, a lot more cheap points. I was able to hang in my service games. And, you know, I felt sooner or later he's going to have to start missing some first serves. That's when I had to try and pounce on him.
Q. With Pete at 31, we see some signs of his slowing down, changes to his game or breakdowns. Do we see that at all with Andre at 32?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. He's an incredible athlete. You know, there's not many people who would be able to do -- I don't know if I'll be out there running around the way he is . And still the motivation and everything, you know - he's ready to go right from the first point every time. You've got to be on your game every time you step out on the court against him; otherwise, he's going to whack you. You know, I was able to, you know, the last couple times we played. We played some great matches. It's hard to beat the San Jose final at the start of the year. And, you know, I don't see any signs of him, you know, fatiguing towards the end of matches at all at the moment.
Q. When you were yelling, were you mad at yourself, were you trying to pump yourself up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was just trying to pump myself up. You know, sometimes it works as a positive, sometimes as a negative. I felt like I was able , when I got down on myself a couple times, I'm able to -- I have a - I don't know how to say it - but some guys, it turns the whole match around and they get very negative on themselves and can't sort of get out of it. I'm able - for some unknown reason, I don't know why - to focus straightaway on the next point. It sometimes makes me concentrate on the next point and try andd improve on what I did wrong Yeah. So for me, I'm not going to say 100% of the time that I get down on myself it works for me, but, you know, I think a lot of other guys, if they get down on themselves at all, sometimes they're history.
Q. After the match, on TV you talked about the level of respect you had for Agassi and still do.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yep.
Q. Is it special for him to have that now for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess. It's something I really don't think about, what Andre thinks of me or how I play the game or me as a person or whatever really. I've got along great with Andre, you know. It's something, you know, even in the locker room now you still look up to him and have so much respect for him. I've still got a poster in my garage of Andre Agassi on the wall at home. Growing up, he was -- he's that kind of -- he's got that kind of personality that you sort of, you know, it sort of fitted right into my attitude, I guess, and my style of play. He's very sort of out there, he gives 100% every time he's on the court. And he's, you know, he's a baseliner as well. A lot of people spoke about how I was the next person since Andre to win from the back of the court at Wimbledon. I draw a lot of confidence from a guy like Andre being able to win all four majors.
Q. It was Agassi you had posters of, none of the other great players?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, no, I liked a lot of players. I liked Mats Wilander a lot. I like watching Pete. He obviously -- I was never going to be a serve-and-volley player, I just didn't have that style of game. But I got a lot of respect for Pete, just how good he really is, you know, how good he's been over so many years. I think I realize that more now that I'm sitting at the top of the game. It's so hard to go out there and after you win a major or two, you sort of -- your goals change. It's hard to get up week in and week out for smaller tournaments. You got to take your hat off to a guy like Pete and Andre who have been able to do it for so many years.
Q. Did his poster used to have a better spot in the garage?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Andre? No, everyone got it confused. I told them when I did my press conference after I beat him in Adelaide the first time it was in my garage. Everyone kept saying it was in my bedroom. No, it was always in my garage; it hasn't changed. Just, you know, I've got a little gym set in there and a speed ball and stuff. It's sort of where I worked out a little bit when I was younger. That's why it's up there. It's when he had long hair and had the bike shorts underneath his denim shorts and that. That sort of suited my character, I think, a little bit.
Q. You have probably the best two hardcourt players playing each other in the quarterfinals. Was this the best rivalry of the tournament? If so, do you feel like you're over a hump now in the tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, there's still two tough matches to go, you know, whoever I play. Obviously, the next match, Roddick or Gonzalez, you'd have to guess that Roddick's probably going to get through that one. But, you know, Andy and I have had a lot of tough matches. It's gonna be extremely tough. He's seeing the ball well. This is basically my first sort of string of matches that I've put together on the hardcourt so far this season. He's had a lot of matches. Even though he's lost a couple, he's made the semi of LA then the final of Toronto. And if he gets to play me, again, it's another semi for him. So his winning form is good form. Then after that, you know, if I can get through that one, then I meet one of the Spaniards. By the way they're going, they're playing pretty well.
Q. You talked about Andy. Can you talk about Gonzalez?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've never played Fernando. Actually, I've played him in Juniors. I played him when I was about 15 and he was 16. I never played him in seniors, though. And all I remember of him, he was the No. 1 junior in the 14s and a guy I probably looked up to when I was 12 or 13. Then he went walkabout for a few years. Next thing you know, he comes out, qualifies, wins the Orlando tournament, now he's here beating Henman and Krajicek yesterday. He's got a massive game, a really big game.
Q. Andre broke you early in the first set. Did you still believe you could recover after that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was 3-0, but I wasn't gonna get down on myself because I had chances in the first two games. You know, I had 15-40, then another breakpoint. So I had three breakpoints in the first game. Then in the second -- next game, I had a game point, pulled the trigger and went for a big second serve and double-faulted. I felt like, you know, it could have very easily been 2-love to me rather than 2- or 3-love down. I just hung in there and kept fighting.
Q. The public was today on his side. Does it bother you, or not at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, he's Andre Agassi. He's in America. I guess, you know, he's just that kind of person as well. The crowds love to come out and see him play. You know, if I wasn't a tennis player, I'd love to come -- I'd pay to come and watch Andre play as well. We're playing in America as well, but Andre has a great following throughout the world.
Q. Are you right where you want to be, heading in to the semis tomorrow night?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd like to be in bed soon, but... Apart from that, I'm pretty happy (laughter).
Moya stuns Hewitt in rain-affected final
By Eleanor Preston
CINCINNATI, Ohio (Reuters) - Carlos Moya managed to overcome a rain delay and Lleyton Hewitt to clinch the Cincinnati Masters title with a 7-5 7-6 win in a classic baseline battle.
"I'm very happy with the way I've been playing and I didn't expect to win the tournament because even though I was playing well, I knew that so many players are playing well," he said.
"Hard court isn't my favourite surface, but I know I can adapt pretty well. This is a big surprise for me.
"With me anything is possible and if I'm lucky I can play well and I can win any tournament."
The victory was only the second hard court title for 25-year-old Moya, and his first on the surface in a Masters Series event.
The Spaniard has now won four titles this year, and eleven in his career, including the 1998 French Open and Masters Series Monte Carlo in 1998.
Moya also becomes the first Spaniard ever to win in Cincinnati and did so without dropping a set.
Hewitt made the early running in the first set, moving to a 3-1 lead over the top seed before being broken back for 3-3 under rapidly darkening skies.
The heavens opened at 4-4 after just 34 minutes of play and when it resumed two and a quarter hours later, Hewitt's serve faltered again at 5-6 under the weight of Moya's destructive forehand.
World number one Hewitt took firm control of the second set, racing to a 5-2 lead only for Moya to claw his way back with the aid of some indifferent serving from the Australian and some sustained aggression of his own.
It was that aggression which helped him save set points at 3-5 down.
In an edgy tiebreaker, the pair exchange mini breaks three times before a Hewitt double fault gave Moya a match point, which he took with a booming serve.
"He just raised the level of his game and to his credit, he played some huge points to get the two breaks back," Hewitt said.
"At 5-3 it was a huge opportunity there if I was able to get into a third set...but then my serve just let me down. I didn't make too many first serves but apart from that I didn't hit the ball that bad."
Moya, seeded 16th here, has been on a hot streak since the start of the season and has now won 20 of his last 22 matches.
Cincinnati marks his biggest pay day of the year so far though, earning him $392,000 in prize money.
"I'd like to congratulate Carlos," Hewitt said.
"He played some great tennis, not just this week but for the last five or six weeks.
"He was too good for me today."
There was more bad news for Hewitt.
His performance this week has earned him $206,000 but after a fracas with the ATP earlier in the week over his refusal to do a TV interview on Monday, Hewitt could be fined as much as half of prize money, so his week's work could cost him $103,000.
Moya's win was also the first final Hewitt has lost since Masters Series Stuttgart in November 2000, when he was runner-up to Wayne Ferreira.
Since losing to the South African, Hewitt had won ten consecutive finals until he ran into Moya.
Moya was world number one for two weeks in 1999 after he reached his only previous Masters Series hard court final in Indian Wells.
Since then he has had to overcome long term back and shoulder problem.
The Cincinnati title is his most prestigious win since battling back from injury.
"Winning here and maybe being in the top ten is something I've been waiting for three years since I was injured.
"It took a while to recover but it looks now like I'm playing pretty well," Moya added.