Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 24 News List

Agassi hands Hewitt No. 1 spot

DOWN TO THE WIRE In the final tournament of the year in Shanghai, Andre Agassi lost against Carlos Ferrero to gift Lleyton Hewitt the ATP Tour title of world number 1

AFP , SHANGHAI, CHINA

Andre Agassi conceded the title of world number one for this year to Australian Lleyton Hewitt after losing an epic battle against Juan Carlos Ferrero at the season-ending Masters Cup yesterday.

Agassi, 32, had to win the tournament to have a chance of overtaking Hewitt as world number one, but his 5-7, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8) loss to Ferrero meant he would not even make it out of the initial round robin stage.

Hewitt went on court later yesterday to play Russian Marat Safin knowing he had secured the world's top ranking for the second year in a row.

The 21-year-old is the youngest player to finish consecutive seasons as world number one and events in Shanghai mean he continues a reign that began when he won last year's Masters Cup edition in Sydney.

Hewitt's achievement lifts him into an elite group that includes only Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras as players who have held on to the number one position for a full calendar year.

The top ranking capped off a wonderful season that saw him triumph at Wimbledon and three other tournaments and win more than US$2.5 million in prize money.

Agassi came into the Masters Cup hoping to become the oldest player to finish a year ranked number one, but he got off to the worst possible start on Wednesday when the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak thrashed him 7-5, 6-1.

He told reporters after that match that he would find it hard to regroup in time for the Ferrero clash and he looked as if he had not mentally recovered in a dour first set that he lost 7-5.

Agassi exploded out of the blocks to break Ferrero's first serve of the second set, which he dominated to take 6-2.

In a nail-biting final set, Agassi saved four match points, three of them in the tie breaker but meekly succumbed with a double fault.

Hewitt returns to top

* Born: Feb. 24, 1981, Adelaide.

* Height: 180cm.

* Turned professional: 1998.

* Plays: Right-handed, double-handed backhand.

* Grand slam titles: Two (2001 US Open, 2002 Wimbledon).

* A natural baseliner and one of the gutsiest performers on Tour. Played Australian Rules football until 13. Girlfriend is Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Source: reuters


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