Hewitt wins in Japan

2001-10-07 14:13

Alastair Himmer Tokyo - US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt demolished Switzerland's Michel Kratochvil 6-4 6-2 in the Japan Open final for his fifth title of the year.

In the women's final, Monica Seles thrashed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-3 6-2 for her 50th career singles title.

Australian top seed Hewitt broke fifth seed Kratochvil in the first game of the match and twice in the second set in a dominant performance at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum.

Hewitt hit a series of fizzing passing shots and also produced four inch-perfect lobs as he answered Kratochvil's all-court game with some finesse of his own.

The world number three demonstrated his fighting qualities in the eighth game of the first set when he saved three break points, the third with a running backhand pass that clipped the net cord to leave Kratochvil shaking his head.

After serving out the first set, Hewitt quickly broke for 2-1 in the second and secured a double break in the seventh game with another thumping return down the line.

Hewitt wrapped up proceedings with a service winner down the middle to extend his winning streak to 14 matches.

"I was able to get myself out of danger a couple of times today. That's got a lot to do with having more confidence under my belt," said Hewitt, who saved all five of the break points he faced.

Hewitt, who picked up $115 000 after a successful first tournament in Japan, will now focus on next month's Tennis Masters Cup in Sydney and the Davis Cup final against France in Melbourne.

Kratochvil said he was encouraged after reaching his second final in three weeks, then paid tribute to Hewitt.

"Lleyton is so quick and he doesn't make any mistakes from the baseline. He is the hottest player in the world at the moment," said the world number 57, who also finished runner-up at the Shanghai Open last month.

Seles took just 64 minutes to wrap up victory against second seed Tanasugarn, who had no answer to the power and depth of the American's groundstrokes in a one-sided final.

Despite converting just three of 13 break points, the world number nine showed glimpses of the form that saw her dominate women's tennis in the early 1990s, and she closed out the match with her eighth ace to clinch her third title of the year.

"I didn't even know it was my 50th until I was told by a television commentator, but it's really great," said Seles, who earned $27 000 for winning her sixth tournament in Japan.