Clavet, nausea send Hewitt to sidelines
3/22/03 7:20 AM
AP Photos FKB101-120
By STEVEN WINE<
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) _ Lleyton Hewitt should refuse to pay for that room-service meal he ate the other night.
Better yet, he should send the bill to Francisco Clavet.
Hewitt, slowed by an upset stomach he blamed on bad hotel food, lost his opening match in the Nasdaq-100 Open to Clavet, 6-4, 6-4.
Hewitt's nausea notwithstanding, the result Friday night was a stunner because Clavet came into the tournament without a victory in 2003. At 34 he's the oldest player in the draw and plans to retire at the end of the year.
A qualifier from Spain, Clavet is ranked 178th. It has been nine years since a No. 1 player lost to someone ranked so low, which only made Hewitt feel worse.
The Australian declined to identify his hotel or say what he ate Thursday night, but it disagreed with him.
``I was sick as a dog all night,'' he said. ``It came quick after I had dinner. I was feeling 100 percent before that.''
Hewitt, who will remain No. 1 despite the loss, twice received treatment from a trainer during changeovers. But smelling salts didn't help.
``I was still sick, and it got worse as the match went on,'' he said.
Hewitt's exit matched the earliest by a top-seeded man at Key Biscayne. No. 1 Thomas Muster lost in the second round in 1996.
Five Americans in Hewitt's half of the draw advanced, led by sixth-seeded Andy Roddick, who overcame some sloppy shotmaking and harrowing moments to defeat qualifier Cyril Saulnier 6-7 (1), 7-6 (2), 6-4.
Mardy Fish upset 11th-seeded Sebastien Grosjean, and wild card Robby Ginepri ousted No. 16 Alex Corretja.
Americans James Blake and Todd Martin also won. Jan-Michael Gambill, Vince Spadea and Taylor Dent lost.
The 20-year-old Roddick will play Martin, 32, on Sunday, while Blake will face Ginepri in another all-American matchup.
On the women's side, top-seeded Serena Williams battled illness herself but overcame the stomach flu to beat Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 6-1.
``At one point I didn't think I'd be able to go on,'' Williams said. ``I couldn't even walk Thursday.''
Hewitt was in trouble from the start, falling behind 5-1, and trailed most of the second set as well. He served poorly and repeatedly missed putaway opportunities.
``I still had a lot of chances to win, even though I played so bad,'' he said.
Clavet beat the scrambling Aussie at his own game, smartly mixing the pace, racing from corner to corner chasing down shots and finally causing an unforced error. Hewitt made 33 to 14 for the Spaniard.
``He's the best defensive player in the world,'' Clavet said. ``He's unbelievable, very fast. So I had to try to mix up my game to play some slice, some topspin, slow balls and then suddenly accelerate. I tried to make him attack me, because he doesn't like to do that.''
A stunned stadium waited for a comeback that never came.
``Vamos, Lleyton!'' one fan shouted, but there was no rousing Hewitt from his languor. The upset ended his 12-match winning streak, which included a title at Indian Wells earlier this month.
Two women seeded in the top 10 were eliminated. No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova failed to convert two match points, faded in the 90-degree heat and lost to Alicia Molik 2-6, 7-5, 6-0; and No. 10 Monica Seles withdrew before her first match, saying she hasn't fully recovered from a stress fracture in her left foot.
Seventh-seeded Lindsay Davenport beat Cristina Torrens Valero 6-2, 6-1.
Fish delighted a grandstand crowd that included his mother and sister by charging the net often to beat Grosjean 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Blake, seeded 21st, beat Fernando Meligeni 7-6 (5), 6-2. Ginepri rallied past Corretja 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Martin rallied to eliminate Andrei Pavel, who retired with a back injury trailing 6-7 (2), 6-4, 2-0.
Gambill lost to No. 12 Rainer Schuettler 6-2, 6-3. Marcelo Rios, the 1998 tournament champion, routed Dent 6-1, 6-1. Spadea lost to No. 5 Carlos Moya 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.