Los Angeles: South African Wayne Ferreira saved three match points in the deciding set before beating top seed Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to win the $380,000 Mercedes-Benz Cup final on Sunday. The former world No.1 from Australia was playing his first tournament since his shock opening-round exit at Wimbledon in June.
Seventh seed Ferreira, 31, a losing semi-finalist in the Australian Open earlier this year, showed the form which helped him beat second seed Sebastien Grosjean and fifth seed Mark Philippoussis in earlier rounds.
“I did everything well, I moved well, I hit the ball well, did my forehand great and I was consistent too... and that (consistency) is key against him,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira suffered a serious groin injury at the French Open earlier this year and was carried off on a stretcher shrieking with pain. He said he was still in pain because of the injury. “I’m over the moon. I shouldn’t have really been playing and you know winning the tournament, I don’t really have words to express how happy I am,” he said.
The first set went with serve until the eighth game when Ferreira broke Hewitt’s delivery with a spectacular backhand winner. The South African looked shaky as he served for the set but saved a break point and held on. Hewitt, 22, made a strong start to the second set, breaking serve in the second game but Ferreira immediately broke back.
The Australian, however, finally began to get the upper hand as the set progressed and Ferreira missed two easy forehand volleys in the 10th game to lose his serve.
Ferreira fought back in the final set and had two break points in the seventh game but could not capitalise. He then saved three match points in the 10th game, the first with an ace and the other two with booming forehand winners.
Hewitt appeared shaken, serving two double faults in the next game to lose his serve and give the South African the chance to serve for the match. Ferreira held his nerve, winning the championship with his 19th ace.
Hewitt paid tribute to his opponent. “He came up with some huge points, he hardly gave me a look at any second serve on big points,” said the Australian. Hewitt added the event was “a good starting point” in the build-up for the US Open later this month.
“I came here and I really wasn’t expecting to go out there and dominate the tournament and win it, so for me to go through and play five matches, it is something I can take into the next few weeks and obviously take into the US Open.”