Work in Sports
Lleyton living large
Hewitt extends unbeaten stretch to 13
Posted: Saturday January 22, 2000 09:03 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Lleyton Hewitt continued his dream run Saturday when he extended his winning streak to 13 matches with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win over Adrian Voinea in the third round at the Australian Open.
The 18-year-old Australian remains unbeaten this year and, with back-to-back tournament titles in Adelaide and Sydney, was clear leader in this year's race for the No. 1 ranking going the season's first Grand Slam tournament. Under a new system, all players started the year at zero.
"It's all happened so quickly," he said. "To win two titles in your home country ... to be in the highest position I've ever been in a Grand Slam, as an 18-year-old it's a dream come true."
Dressed all in black, except for his trademark back-to-front white cap, and backed by a vocal Melbourne Park crowd, Hewitt broke Voinea's serve twice in the first set.
The pair exchanged breaks to open the second before Voinea, a Romanian ranked 98th at the end of last year, took a five-minute break for medical attention to his right thigh.
They traded breaks a further three times until Hewitt held serve and avoided a tiebreaker. The third was all one-way, Hewitt grabbing two service breaks before setting up match point with a sizzling crosscourt forehand return plus two unforced errors by Voinea.
"I was thrilled because I was down a break twice in the second set and held on. ... It made it easier in the third," he said.
His confidence is sky high, particularly after his 6-0, 6-0, 6-1 second-round thrashing of Spaniard Alex Corretja, who last year rose as high as No. 2 in the world rankings.
Hewitt won 16 consecutive games before Corretja finally held serve to prevent the Australian becoming only the sixth player in Grand Slam history to score a triple bagel.
Although he still rates helping Australia to the Davis Cup title last year as "the ultimate," he said he'd be ecstatic with a Grand Slam triumph.
Hewitt set up a fourth-round clash with No. 12 seeded Magnus Norman and is confident after beating the Swede at the Sydney International last week.
"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough that if I play my own game I think I'll match up pretty well against him," he said.
Defending titlist and No. 2 seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov acknowledged Hewitt's record but said the teen-ager hadn't been confronted by any difficult opponent.
Hewitt, however, says he's had some good wins over Thomas Enqvist, Corretja and Norman and can't help who he meets.
"I can't help it if the seeds drop out of my part of the draw," he said. "I haven't played any big names as such but I've had some tough games. I've won 13 games in a row, that's all I can do -- I can only play who I'm up against."