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Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, November 15, 2002

Hewitt Lifts Year-end No.1 Title as Agassi out of Run

Australian Lleyton Hewitt lifted the ATP year-end champion trophy after his tough win over Russian Marat Safin in Shanghai Masters Cup tennis event as American AndreAgassi stopped his steps chasing the year-end No. 1 spot Thursday.


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Hewitt Lifts Year-end No.1 Title as Agassi out of Run
Australian Lleyton Hewitt lifted the ATP year-end champion trophy after his tough win over Russian Marat Safin in Shanghai Masters Cup tennis event as American Andre Agassi stopped his steps chasing the year-end No. 1 spot Thursday.

It was both a good and bad day for Hewitt as he was crowned the year-end No. 1 but had his fate at the championship controlled in others' hands.

Hewitt struggled through Safin 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to clinch second victory after beating Spanish Albert Costa in the previous match. But he had to wait the result of an all Spanish match-up between Costa and Carlos Moya to decide the semi-final berth in the Red Group. If Costa wins his match, Hewitt will be out.

Whereas Agassi was more unlucky as he was dragged to a premature end at the Shanghai Masters Cup tennis tournament after suffering the second consecutive loss and Lleyton Hewitt won a tough match against Marat Safin.

Agassi's loss to Spanish Juan Carlos Ferrero not only delighted the winner but also left Australian Lleyton Hewitt with a comfortable No. 1 finish in the Champions Race rankings, currently on 807 points.

Agassi was in a distant second on 679 while Marat Safin, also eliminated after his clash against Hewitt, was third on 569.

32-year-old Agassi was outserved and outpaced in a three-set thriller against Ferrero as he was defeated 5-7, 6-2, 6-7 (6-7).

Making his 14th appearance in the year-ender, Agassi lost the power of his exquisite technique and fell victim to unforced errors, 47 in all to Ferrero's 24.

"I didn't expect to come out and play a bad match. It was just a tough match. I expected it to be tough and it was tough," said a disappointed Agassi. "I'm not sure it's any consolation when you lose it."

"I think Lleyton obviously has had a great year. He's again proven himself to be the best out there and that's not easy to do, especially the way he plays the game. So a lot of credit to him."

Agassi, coming through the season with five titles, was stunned by Jiri Novak of Czech Republic in the first match of the round-robin play while Hewitt dismantled Albert Costa of Spain to widen the gap to 108 points.

But Agassi still believed he had room to make progress despite his age.

"I still believe I can improve. You know, to finish No. 1 is an accumulation of a hard, long year. I'm never quite sure if I have that in me, but I know I have better tennis all the time and that's my motivation."

Earlier, Roger Federer of Switzerland became the second player following Moya into the semi-finals after trouncing Jiri Novak of Czech Republic 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.

"I was really hoping to win two out of the three, really, and that was my first goal. So that's great. I hope that I get through to the semi-finals with this victory from today, but I'll come out tomorrow so strong again because I felt very good today on the court."

Tomorrow will see three matches of the last round of the round-robin play with Moya taking on countryman Albert Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain facing Jiri Novak of Czech Republic and Agassi meeting with Federer.


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