The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Marat Safin smashes Hewitt, crowned master of Paris

Paris: Marat Safin demolished world number one Lleyton Hewitt 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the final of the $2.8 million Paris Masters on Sunday to clinch his first title for 13 months.

The Russian third seed produced a mixture of thundering serves, blistering groundstrokes and deft touches around the net to leave Hewitt helpless after a close first set that lasted almost an hour.

Hewitt, who spent the afternoon desperately scampering around the baseline, bravely saved three match points when serving at 3-5 down in the third set.

But the 22-year-old Safin, who served 13 aces and hit 40 winners, held his nerve to come back from 0-30 in the next game to clinch victory in two hours 20 minutes.

“I served very well, which is so important against Lleyton,” said Safin, winner here in 2000 and runner-up to Andre Agassi in 1999.

“In the second set I was playing perfect tennis, I couldn’t miss. But he fights and fights.”

Hewitt recovered from an early break in the opening set and gradually gained the upper hand. He had the Russian under pressure at 4-4 but crucially failed to convert a break point.

He paid the price for several wayward forehand errors in the tiebreak, however, as Safin moved one set ahead.

“When you get a chance against Marat you have to take it,” said Hewitt, who also squandered two break back points when he was 1-0 down in the second set.

A four-game hot streak from the Russian then left Hewitt with little choice but to applaud his opponent’s fizzing winners.

“I had a few chances to get back into the match but when you give Marat a start, he’s very tough to peg back,” added Hewitt.

The writing was on the wall for the Wimbledon champion when he lost his serve in the fifth game of the third set.

Although he tried to hang on, Hewitt’s battling qualities could not save him on this occasion as the confidence flowed through Safin’s racket.

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