Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Hewitt struggles to win against Arnaud Clement


Australia's Lleyton Hewitt jubilates after he defeated France's Arnaud Clement 6-7, 6-4 and 7-6 during the Tennis Masters Hamburg 2003 competition in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday.


Top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt survived his second scare in two days and rallied to outlast Arnaud Clement of France 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the second round of the Hamburg Masters on Wednesday.

On a windy, cool and occasionally rainy northern German day, Hewitt and Clement battled for 3 hours, 36 minutes in a seesaw match. They were somewhat protected from the elements because the center court has a retractable roof.

"These are as tough conditions as you can get," Hewitt said.

Hewitt began his clay-court season late Tuesday and needed nearly 2 1/2 hours to overcome German wild card Markus Hantschk.

Fighting back from a 5-0 deficit, he saved four set points in the opening set against Clement and then squandered one of his own, before the Frenchman won the tiebreaker.

"Coming off a tough late-night match, you slip a little," Hewitt said.

Hewitt romped to a 5-0 lead in the second, only to see Clement win the next four games. The Australian served out the set to even the score.

Clement led 3-1 in the third, but Hewitt broke back to make it 3-3 and the Frenchman had two break points at 4-4. On the first, he hit a smash way long and high. On his second, however, he sent a clever crosscourt forehand winner and went up 5-4, with a chance to serve out the match.

But Hewitt pounced on Clement's serve from the start and broke back, letting out a huge yell and pumping his fists.

Clement missed is first chance to send the match into a tiebreaker. With Hewitt on the ground after lounging for a passing shot, Clement hit a forehand long when all he had to do was to put the ball back into court. Hewitt, however, hit the net on the next point after chasing a drop volley.

The Frenchman led 3-1 and 5-3 in the tiebreaker but it was Hewitt who had the first match point, and wasted it with a wide forehand. On his second, there was a long rally until Hewitt fired a deep forehand down the line. Clement got to it but sent it back long.

"I am trying to make my three-setters five-setters, to prepare better for the French Open," Hewitt joked. "I don't feel I played my best tennis but I fought hard and came up with some big points."

The US$2.4 million Hamburg event is a major warm-up for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year.

Albert Costa, the fifth-seeded Spaniard who will be defending his French Open title beginning May 26 in Paris, went out against Olivier Rochus of Belgium, who rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory. At 2-2 in the third set, Costa had his right ankle taped and appeared to be hobbling on several occasions.

Third-seeded defending champion Roger Federer beat Sargis Sargsian 6-1, 6-1 and Gustavo Kuerten rolled into the third round with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Nikolay Davydenko.

The 11th-seeded Brazilian, once the top-ranked player on clay, hasn't won a title on the surface in 22 months. He is still uncertain of his game after undergoing a hip operation in February 2002.

``I have to keep playing my game, to feel that my shots are getting there,'' Kuerten said. ``I have to raise my confidence and belief in my head.''

A three-time French Open winner, Kuerten won the Hamburg tournament in 2000, one of his 13 titles on clay.

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