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Hewitt beats Kuerten; Clijsters defeats Davenport
March 16, 2003 Print it
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Lleyton Hewitt and girlfriend Kim Clijsters have matching Pacific Life Open titles.
Top-ranked Hewitt beat a weary Gustavo Kuerten 6-1, 6-1 to defend his championship, right after top-seeded Clijsters defeated Lindsay Davenport 6-4, 7-5 in the women's final Sunday.
"It's obviously fantastic for the both of us to come here, No. 1 seeds, and everyone wants to knock you off, and we've both been able to handle the pressure and situation very well this week," said Hewitt, a 22-year-old Australian.
"It's a bit awkward going on straight after her. I'd much rather be out there supporting her than sitting in the locker room waiting."
Clijsters, a 19-year-old from Belgium ranked No. 3, said earlier that she gets almost more nervous watching her boyfriend of some three years play than when she's on the court herself.
"He's been in these types of situations, in big finals more than I have," Clijsters said. "I was happy I got to play first because otherwise I would have been watching more of his match. I think then it would have been harder for me to focus for my own match."
Was Hewitt worried about her match?
"He was still sleeping when I had to leave. I don't think he was worried about mine too much," Clijsters said.
She earned $332,000 for her singles victory, and Hewitt got $400,000.
Asked if the champions pool their money, Hewitt smiled and said, "I don't know about that."
Hewitt was never threatened by Kuerten, who had only about two hours to rest after finishing his rain-delayed semifinal with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Rainer Schuettler.
"It was very unusual and very tough as well," Kuerten said. "I had a big opponent and a tough schedule that I couldn't deal with.
"In the first games, I was a little tired here and there, then more and more."
Kuerten, a three-time French Open champion and former No. 1, had trouble keeping the ball in play, making 30 unforced errors to Hewitt's 10.
Hewitt, No. 1 since Nov. 19, 2001, had almost a 24-hour break between his semifinal victory over qualifier Vince Spadea and the championship match.
Although he struggled against Hewitt, Kuerten is playing well again after having hip surgery last year. The Brazilian won the Auckland tournament in January and is 18-5 in all matches this year, including 10-2 on hard courts.
Clijsters mixed lobs, volleys and pinpoint groundstrokes against Davenport to win her second title of the year.
A former No. 1 still working her way back from last year's knee surgery, Davenport had 10 double faults and made 39 unforced errors. Clijsters had only 27 errors.
She also won the Sydney tournament in January.
While crediting her opponent for outplaying her at Indian Wells, Davenport said she didn't like the early starting times for the finals, tailored for television.
She said she got up around 6:30 a.m. -- "a little ridiculous for a final."
"It wasn't a great match, no question about it," Davenport said. "I don't think I've ever warmed up for a final at 7:20 in the morning, especially after finishing so late the other night (around 11 p.m.).
"It's disappointing because, win or lose, you'd like to play a more high-quality match for the fans, or even just for yourself."
Davenport was denied an unprecedented third Indian Wells championship; she won the event in 1997 and 2000.
Clijsters showed her versatility on a point in the 10th game of the second set, when she sent Davenport scrambling with a crosscourt forehand, followed with a lob that made Davenport backpedal, next hit a drop shot, then won the point with a forehand passing shot.
Davenport could only shake her head.
Later in the day, she and partner Lisa Raymond won the women's doubles, defeating Clijsters and Ai Sugiyama 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
Kuerten and Schuettler had to wait overnight to complete their match, which was suspended Saturday evening after a wait of nearly 51/2 hours.
Kuerten won the first set Saturday, and Schuettler took the first game of the second set before rain halted play. Hewitt had defeated Spadea 7-6 (5), 6-1 before the rain began.