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  Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Revolution reaches Wimbledon
Australia's Lleyton Hewitt
World number one Hewitt faces some tough competition

Lleyton Hewitt's victory was a fitting end to two weeks that saw Wimbledon catch up with the rest of the men's circuit.

The 21-year-old Australian became the first baseliner since Andre Agassi to win the title, and only the second since Bjorn Borg over 20 years ago.

And whether or not Hewitt emulates the great Swede by making the trophy his own, there are likely to be more baseliners holding the trophy in years to come.

This year's championships followed the pattern of surprise winners and finalists set in Grand Slams over the last two years.

But Wimbledon has been the last tournament to join the party in this respect.

Mario Ancic of Croatia
Ancic created the first stir of the tournament

Goran Ivanisevic's victory last year was a major upset, but he was still a huge server and veteran of three Wimbledon finals.

This year, the long-term policy of firming up the courts finally took effect - although tournament officials were keen to point out that the grass had not altered.

Add to that the fact that each season sees fewer and fewer grass-court specialists on tour and it is no coincidence that this year has seen the dramatic arrival of a new generation.

Nobody would have thought that Argentine David Nalbandian could make the final, but it would have taken considerable foresight to predict most of the last 16.

Fellow South Americans Nicolas Lapentti and Andre Sa continued to the last eight, while former champion Richard Krajicek fell to 21-year-old Belgian Xavier Malisse.

The shocks started early, with Croat Mario Ancic ably deputising for absent countryman Goran Ivanisevic by demolishing seventh seed Roger Federer in three sets.

Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson also fell in the first round, but if we thought Monday was surprising, it was nothing compared to Wednesday's events.

Former champion Pete Sampras
Sampras' best days are behind him

Second seed Marat Safin, seven-time champion Pete Sampras, and former champion Andre Agassi all crashed out as the bottom half of the draw was decimated.

Suddenly every player still standing thought they had a chance of winning Wimbledon, not least the British pair of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.

Unfortunately, after struggling through to the last four Henman could not avoid the world number one.

And after a crushing win over American star Andy Roddick, Rusedski found Malisse in the kind of form that has already made an impression at Flushing Meadows and Roland Garros.

There is no escaping the feeling that the two Britons missed their greatest chance.

Incredible

And by next year they may have joined Agassi, Sampras, Rafter and Ivanisevic as outsiders when the Grand Slams come around.

Almost a decade of Sampras domination came to an end last year when Ivanisevic became one of the unlikeliest champions of all time.

This year has been, if anything, a more incredible tournament.

The men's singles at Wimbledon took on the kind of change seen when Sampras won in 1993, or Boris Becker took the title eight years earlier.

Of the old guard, possibly only Agassi still has a major title in him, and it is more likely to come at the US or Australian Opens.

But if Hewitt wants to hold on to the Wimbledon trophy he will have to fight off a growing band of Grand Slam contenders.

News, reports and features from our Wimbledon site

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