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Hewitt Makes a Lot of Racket in Win

Top-seeded player struggles to defeat Carlsen. Kiefer, Ferreira and Philippoussis also advance.

August 02, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Afternoon quiet at UCLA, bordering on slumber, was pierced by the volume and ferocity of Lleyton Hewitt's voice ripping through the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

There are a few reassuring noises in tennis: Monica Seles' grunt, and now, Hewitt's favorite exhortation.

All together now. "Comeonnnn!!"

The Australian gave his vocal cords a workout Friday in a surprisingly demanding match against No. 76-ranked Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark. The top-seeded Hewitt defeated Carlsen, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3, in 2 hours 21 minutes in a quarterfinal match at Mercedes-Benz Cup.

In fact, it was a great day to play two -- two hours, that is. The first three quarterfinals were in excess of two hours, and the third spilled over into the night session. In the opener, Nicolas Kiefer of Germany defeated Vince Spadea, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, and, after Hewitt-Carlsen, No. 7 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa defeated No. 2 Sebastien Grosjean of France, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-2, in 2 hours 3 minutes.

Hewitt will play Kiefer today in the first semifinal at 1 p.m., and Ferreira will meet fifth-seeded Mark Philippoussis of Australia in the second semifinal at 7 p.m.

The crowd-pleasing night quarterfinal went three sets, of course, hitting the limit as Philippoussis beat No. 4 Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), in 1 hour 56 minutes.

Kuerten saved a match point in the 12th game of the third set. Serving at 5-6, 30-40, his drop shot hit the net cord and dribbled over on Philippoussis' side. Kuerten kissed the net. He went on to save two more match points in the tiebreaker before Philippoussis won it on his fourth, serving an ace. Philippoussis had 22 aces to Kuerten's 12.

He also said he had an unprintable reaction to the net-cord winner on his first match point.

"I don't know if I can say that out loud. It wasn't pretty," said Philippoussis in his on-court TV interview.

"He went for it. He has great touch and it paid off."

Philippoussis and Hewitt are a match away from an all-Aussie final.

For Hewitt, this is the first time he has reached the semifinals of a tournament since March when he won the Indian Wells event. It wasn't easy. The blend of power from the left-hander, Carlsen, and tricky slice kept Hewitt off balance. Carlsen had 15 aces to Hewitt's four.

Carlsen was the beneficiary of a net-cord return winner in the tiebreaker, which gave him a 4-2 lead, and he lost only one more point in the set, taking it when Hewitt netted a forehand.

The Hewitt temper kicked into an extra gear in the first game of the second set, as he upbraided chair umpire Norm Chryst, telling him to open his mouth, and later tossed his racket in the third set. His serve, importantly, picked up as he gave up only three points on it in the final set.

"When he gets [angry] at himself, of course, it's good for me," Carlsen said. "Then you know you are doing something right. That's always better when he's saying, 'Come on,' then you know he's won the point.

"I don't pay too much attention to him when he's won the point, but I do pay attention when he gets [upset] because it's good to know he's angry."

Said Hewitt: "I thought he played very well. That's the best I've seen him play. He's obviously got a big game when he's on. But I thought he'd give me a lot more chances than he did. I still had my chances and against a guy like that you've got to take it as soon as you get those small opportunities."

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