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Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 11:18 GMT
Champion Hewitt proves his class
Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt needed all of his mental strength to win
Lleyton Hewitt displayed all of the mental and physical grit of a true champion to beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5 7-5 2-6 2-6 6-4 and retain his Masters Cup title.

The Australian needed every ounce of his strength to win an enthralling match and beat his Spanish opponent, who was twice a break ahead in the final set.

Hewitt looked out of the contest after surrendering the third and fourth sets in uncharacteristically timid style, as Ferrero dominated the serve of the world number one.


I just had to dig deep and keep on fighting
Lleyton Hewitt

But the Australian is famous for his hatred of losing - and managed to find the willpower to come back, despite being physically fatigued.

He took his chance when the Spaniard's nerve wobbled in the 10th game of the final set.

On the second match point, Ferrero moved into the net, only for Hewitt to respond with a finely-judged lob, a shot worthy of winning a classic encounter.

Hewitt picked up $700,000 and a new Mercedes-Benz for the win - to go alongside his prize of earning the world number one ranking for the second year in succession.

It had looked so much more straightforward earlier in the match.

Juan Carlos Ferrero
Ferrero was unable to overcome the dogged Hewitt

The Australian looked to be coasting to victory at two sets ahead with his Spanish counterpart on the ropes.

Despite making a sluggish start, Hewitt was sparked into life, ironically by being broken by Ferrero and falling 3-5 behind in the first set.

Four successive games gave him the set, and despite losing an early advantage in the second, Hewitt finished strongly and Ferrero looked a broken man.

But somehow, the Spaniard found an extra gear and prompted a sudden dramatic change in fortunes.

The Australian was a shadow of the player who beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals, and made a host of unforced errors, while Ferrero played some inspired tennis.

Hewitt, though, was able to stem the rising tide and closed out the final set to emphasise why he is top of the world rankings.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Iain Carter
"Hewitt showed extraordinary resilience"
Lleyton Hewitt
"Every match this week was a grind"
All the action from the end-of-season Masters Cup

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