Lleyton Hewitt won the Queen’s Club championship at London for the second consecutive year, defeating Pete Sampras in the semifinal and Tim Henman in two tiebreakers in the title match.
The semifinals and final of the Wimbledon tuneup were both played Sunday because of rain.
“It’s unbelievable to win the title in this way and beat two of the best grass-court players in the world,” Hewitt said.
“I would have told someone they were probably dreaming if they had told me that was going to happen today.”
The third-seeded Australian defeated Sampras, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in a rematch of last year’s Queen’s final. He then moved to center court to defeat Henman, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3). Henman defeated Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, in the other semifinal.
In the final, Henman broke for a 5-4 lead in the second set but Hewitt broke back immediately. In the tiebreak, Henman netted a forehand to give Hewitt three match points.
Hewitt’s best showing at Wimbledon was the third round two years ago. But he thinks he is now a more aggressive player who can dictate play from the baseline.
“They said I had a chance last year, but I lost in the first round,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to lose this year.”
Henman is convinced Hewitt can be a factor when Wimbledon begins next Monday.
“He’s a tough competitor on any surface,” he said.
“I eventually break his serve for the first time in the match and he hits four winners to break me. But that’s one of his qualities, the way he bounces back.”
Sampras does not regard the loss as a setback in his bid for an eighth Wimbledon title.
“It would have been nice to go into Wimbledon having won a tournament,” he said.
“But I’ve got a few matches under my belt. I feel pretty good. It wasn’t meant to be today.”
The turning point came halfway through the second set. Sampras questioned the umpire after his first serve was overruled. Hewitt soon broke at love to make it 5-3.
“I was playing aggressively and, all of a sudden, in the middle of the second set I put in a couple of loose points,” Sampras said. “He had a couple of good returns and he just went on a great roll.”
Sampras lost in the second round of the French Open, the only Grand Slam he has not won. But he feels more relaxed than last year and will have no problem regrouping for Wimbledon.
“If you can’t get motivated for Wimbledon--that’s our Super Bowl--you shouldn’t be playing,” he said.
With the chance that even slight tinkering could spark a boycott, Wimbledon officials will meet today in London to decide how to assign more seedings than before and still satisfy the world’s top players.
They will examine the new tennis rankings and debate how much they should shuffle them to reflect the ability of players on fast grass courts.
Even with 32 seeded spots instead of the traditional 16, straying too far from the rankings probably will produce a boycott by clay-court specialists, who insist they face bias at the All England Club and want the men’s seedings to adhere to world rankings as they do in the women’s draw.
French Open runner-up Alex Corretja already has threatened to pull out if the Wimbledon organizers favor the grass-court stars, while fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero said doubling the number of seedings was a “backward step.”
All four Grand Slam tournaments announced last week that they were doubling the number of seeded players to 32, with the order determined by a formula that assesses past performance on each event’s playing surface.
The new system ensures that the top 32 players in the ATP and WTA rankings will be seeded. In the past, a committee at Wimbledon adjusted seedings subjectively based on past performances on grass.
Nathalie Tauziat defeated Anne Kremer, 6-4, 6-0, and then defeated defending champion Lisa Raymond, 6-0, 7-6 (5), to reach the final of the rain-delayed DFS Classic at Birmingham, England. Tauziat will play Miriam Oremans of the Netherlands, a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
Bianka Lamade of Germany won her first WTA Tour title, defeating Seda Noorlander of the Netherlands, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, in the Tashkent Open final at Tashkent, Uzbekistan. . . . Thomas Johansson of Sweden won his first title of the year, defeating Fabrice Santoro of France, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, to win the Gerry Weber Open at Halle, Germany.
Track and Field
Dwain Chambers of England shrugged off five false starts by other competitors to win the 100 meters in 10.14 seconds at the Nuremberg Live 2001 in Germany.
Under new rules being tested by international track and field officials in IAAF Grand Prix II meets this year, no false starts are allowed. If such rules were in force at the meet, the race would have wound up with three starters.
Jonathan Edwards of England won the triple jump at 56 feet 5 1/4 inches. Germany’s Heike Drechsler, the Olympic champion, finished fifth in the women’s long jump. Maurren Maggi of Brazil won at 22-6 1/4. Grit Breuer of Germany won the women’s 400 at 50.60.
Karen Smyers of Boston and Dave Harju of Canada won the Muskoka Triathlon at Huntsville, Canada. Smyers, winner of world titles at both the Olympic and Ironman triathlon distances, won the women’s competition in 2 hours 55 minutes 28 seconds. Harju won in 2:43:52.
A runner from Zimbabwe died at the Comrades Marathon after collapsing during the 55.8-mile race at Durban, South Africa. Dipack Naik, 45, collapsed five miles from the finish. Andre Kelehe of South Africa won the race in 5:25.51.
Debbie McDonald, riding Brentina, won the U.S. Equestrian Team Dressage Grand Prix Championship at Gladstone, N.J. McDonald, of Hailey, Idaho, swept all three phases and finished with an overall score of 72.578%. Guenter Seidal, a two-time Olympic team bronze medalist in 1996, finished second, riding Nikolaus 7. Seidal, of Del Mar, finished with 70.067%. Finishing third at 67.353% was Steffen Peters of Escondido, riding Grandeur.
England forfeited a cricket match to Pakistan after more than 200 fans ran onto the field at Leeds, forcing players to run for safety. A steward was removed from the field on a stretcher by paramedics, reportedly because of a broken nose.
Sam Jethroe, one of the first black baseball players in the major leagues and the oldest player to win rookie-of-the-year honors, died at Erie, Pa. He was 83. Story, B9.)