Lleyton Hewitt’s chances of qualifying for the Tennis Masters Cup were dealt another blow Tuesday when he was beaten by Xavier Malisse in the first round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. Hewitt, who needs to climb from 13th to eighth position in the ATP Champions Race to make it to Houston, is running out of chances to haul in the Race leaders.
Malisse, who was playing a Top 10 player for the fourth consecutive match, had lost four of his past five first-round matches and was on a three-match losing streak.
Hewitt said: “I just didn't feel great out there today. Don't really know why. I felt even in the first set, didn't feel like I played great tennis. You know, Xavier, he was struggling out there a bit. You know, he gave me a couple easy service games. Early in the second set I felt like I had a chance, and I think I had a break point maybe to go 3?1 up in the second, and he hit ?? made an ace on that point. After that, it was pretty much downhill for most of the match.
“I haven't played that much tennis. I had a good week in LA and made the final, had a couple doubles matches, then only two matches last week. It would've probably been nice to get a few more matches under my belt, but I won't be playing next week.”
Malisse said: “You just go out there, you don't expect to win; you want to win; you feel like you can win. But still, it's Top 10 on the other side of the net. But I was confident the last weeks. I've had tough draws, but I played three sets every time against the Top 10 guys. I feel like I'm right there and it had to come, and today was the day.
The last four weeks I've played Roddick, Grosjean, Roddick. First round in LA against Grosjean, first round Montreal, Roddick. Beginning of the season, too. Every time I've been close. But it's always nicer to play a different guy first round, and then maybe second round a Top 10 seed. Some years you get a little more luckier than other years.