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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 7th July 2002, 14:19
maddog_mcclaymore
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Hewitt faces the unknown

The men's final starts at 1400 BST, Sunday 7 July - full coverage on BBC 1, Radio Five Live and BBC Sport Online.

Lleyton Hewitt goes into Sunday's Wimbledon final an overwhelming favourite to beat Argentine newcomer David Nalbandian.



It's an incredible feeling to see so many great champions up on the board that have held the trophy

Lleyton Hewitt
The world number one cruised past Tim Henman on Friday in what was widely predicted to be the toughest test he would face at this year's championships.
And Nalbandian has been the underdog in every match he has played on his way to becoming the first man in the Open era to make the final on his Wimbledon debut.

Nalbandian makes history

But Hewitt could be in for a shock if he believes the hard work has been done.

Nalbandian will not give the Australian the target he likes at the net and will be the heavier hitter of the two from the baseline.

And like all outsiders, the 20-year-old Argentine goes into the match unburdened by expectation.


Nalbandian has nothing to lose in the final

"I think the match is going to be very tough," said Nalbandian. "He's playing very, very good but we both have the same chance to win the tournament."

The pair have met only once, on the clay of Barcelona in April, and despite the surface favouring Nalbandian it was Hewitt who ran out a comfortable 6-2 6-4 winner.

There is certainly good reason to believe Hewitt will become the first Australian to win Wimbledon since Pat Cash in 1987.

He has already experienced winning a Grand Slam at the US Open last September and has been in devastating form on grass this year, winning at Queen's and dropping just two sets at the All England Club.

Hewitt ready for greatness

And while Nalbandian is getting used to the idea of making his first Grand Slam final appearance, Hewitt has already set his sights on joining the great names of the sport.

"It's an incredible feeling to see so many great champions up on the board that have held the trophy," said Hewitt.

"It's what kids dreamt of sitting back at home watching Pat Cash win Wimbledon 15 years ago."


Bjorn Borg won five titles from the baseline

This year's championships have seen a changing of the guard with the early exits of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, and the success of the likes of Nalbandian and Xavier Malisse.

And it is not just the names that have changed.

For the first time since Bjorn Borg beat Jimmy Connors in 1978, the men's singles final will be played out by two baseliners, with volleying used as an occasional surprise tactic.

Nalbandian has been hitting his groundstrokes - and particularly the cross-court forehand - with ferocious power on the firmer than usual grass.

But in Hewitt he faces the one man who is capable of chasing down almost anything.

The key to the match may well be how well Nalbandian can hold serve, as it is something he has struggled with in his last two matches.

And there is nobody better in the game at punishing the second serve than Hewitt, as Henman found out to his cost on Friday


Willie
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old 7th July 2002, 14:22
maddog_mcclaymore
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Nalbandian into final

D Nalbandian bt X Malisse 7-6 6-4 1-6 2-6 6-2
David Nalbandian won a final set shoot-out with Xavier Malisse to reach the Wimbledon final at his first attempt.

The Argentine will face number one seed Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday after holding his nerve on the resumption of his semi-final with Malisse.



I can't describe how I feel - it's been the best week of my life

David Nalbandian
Level at two sets apiece overnight, Nalbandian opened with his fastest serve of the match and comfortably took the opening game of the fifth set.

Malisse appeared to have seized the initiative though when he broke Nalbandian's serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead.

Nalbandian in dreamland
Pressure gets to Malisse

But the 20-year-old, playing his first tournament on grass, then proceeded to reel off five game in a row to become one of the unlikeliest men's finalists of all time.


Malisse lost his serve three times in the final set

He immediately broke his Belgian opponent to love, and did so twice again to win in three hours and 17 minutes, sealing victory with a superb backhand volley.

The drama-filled contest had been suspended just before 2100 BST on Friday with Malisse having coming from two sets down to level the match.

The Belgian was in control in the third and fourth sets and started favourite on Saturday to face Hewitt in the final.

Read game-by-game report

But after starting with three aces in a confident opening service game, Malisse lost nine points in a row at one stage as the fifth set slipped away from him.



Today I was too stressed - I wasn't thinking about having fun, I was just thinking about winning and I was too tense on court

Xavier Malisse
He continued to try to hit winners off almost every shot, but the fluidity of Friday evening deserted him as Nalbandian proved the stronger.
His victory staved off any further controversy over the injury time-out that Malisse took after the first set.

Malisse had called for assistance at 2-3 down, appearing to complain of a chest problem.


Nalbandian was kept waiting for over 10 minutes


After an initial consultation he was able to resume the set without further help, going down 7-2 in the tie-break.

But Malisse then called for the doctor at the end of the set and disappeared off court for more than 10 minutes.

Nalbandian was left in his chair mystified, as treatment is only allowed for three minutes.

But tournament rules state that the three minutes do not start until after a medical evaluation has been completed, and officials later confirmed that Malisse was being assessed rather than being treated.

Photo Gallery: See this story in pictures

After the players were forced off for a rain delay, Malisse phoned his doctor in Belgium and was reportedly told his heart jitters were brought on by stress and anxiety, although he apparently underwent a heart operation when he was 17.

He could not prevent Nalbandian from closing out the second set, but some sparkling tennis in the third and fourth sets appeared to give him the edge.

But the Argentine youngster maintained his composure after the overnight break to produce the latest remarkable story in a men's tournament that has defied all predictions.

Willie
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  #52 (permalink)  
Old 7th July 2002, 14:23
maddog_mcclaymore
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Nalbandian in dreamland

David Nalbandian struggled to come to terms with his achievement after making it through to the final on his Wimbledon debut.
The 20-year-old beat Belgium's Xavier Malisse in five sets to become the first Argentine to make it to the All England Club finale.

Gamewatch: Malisse v Nalbandian



I played against my coach and juniors and I kept losing

David Nalbandian
He is also the first player in the Open era to reach the final on his tournament debut.

"For me this is a dream," said the 20-year-old, who had never even played a competitive grasscourt match on the ATP tour before his first-round match last week.

Three years ago he left Wimbledon in tears after being defaulted in the semi-finals of the boy's tournament after turning up late for his match.

Pressure gets to Malisse

Now he faces a final against Australia's world number one Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday.

"This is very great for me, I cannot describe this," he said.


Nalbandian can barely believe that he is in the final


"This is the best win of my life and I don't have too much time to celebrate, but I'm going to enjoy this feeling for a little bit.

"When we arrived, I said to my coach that if we reached the third round that would be a great tournament.

Photo gallery: Malisse v Nalbandian

"I even told my mum that I would be home in the second week and now I am in the final."

Nalbandian, who won the first title of his career earlier this year on clay at Estoril, has only limited experience of grass.

Fighter

"It's incredible," he said. "I was supposed to play my first grasscourt event in Nottingham two weeks ago but I injured my leg, but I got some practice on grasscourts in Argentina.

"I played against my coach and juniors and I kept losing."

He lost in his only previous meeting with Hewitt, but after a Wimbledon that has been full of upsets he is not writing off his chances of victory just yet.

"It will be tough," he added. "When I played Lleyton in Barcelona he played really well. But on Sunday it is a final, you never know what will happen.

"I come from Armenian stock and we are fighters."

Willie
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  #53 (permalink)  
Old 7th July 2002, 14:25
maddog_mcclaymore
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Pressure gets to Malisse

Xavier Malisse blamed stress for his five-set defeat at the hands of Argentina's David Nalbandian at Wimbledon.
The Belgian suffered from heart palpitations on Friday during his semi-final and had to call on the doctor.



The fans here were great and its been an amazing experience

Xavier Malisse
When the players resumed on Saturday, Nalbandian secured a place in the final by winning the final set 6-2.

Gamewatch: Malisse v Nalbandian

The number 27 seed refused to blame his heart trouble for the narrow defeat, but admitted he struggled to cope with the situation.

"I was thinking of winning too much and I was getting stressed," he said. "I wasn't thinking about having fun, I was thinking about winning.

"I've had it (the chest problems) before. There's no danger, it's just a very stressful thing.

"Everything was fine today, everything was normal.

"Yesterday I didn't play my best until after the rain when it got a little easier.

"Unfortunately I was playing my best when it got dark last night but that's sport.

"Maybe if we'd kept going I could have been in the finals.

"I felt pretty confident but he played well and kept his nerve a little better than I did.

"It's been a great two weeks, the fans here were great and it's been an amazing experience."

Photo Gallery: Malisse v Nalbandian

Malisse appeared to be suffering from chest problems as early as the fourth game on Friday.

He looked out of breath and consulted the courtside doctor and physio after the fifth game.

At the end of the set he went off court for more than 10 minutes.

Comforted

Tournament rules stipulate that players may only have three minutes for treatment.

But that does not include time for the injury or illness to be evaluated and diagnosed.

During the rain break Malisse was comforted by a phone call to his doctor in Belgium who assured him it was just a sign of stress.

He was able to resume the match and forced a deciding fifth set before the light faded.

Willie
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  #54 (permalink)  
Old 8th July 2002, 14:26
lizwest lizwest is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Melbourne ,Victoria.Australia
Posts: 220
Talking Wimbledon

GoodonyaLeyton!!!


Thanks Willie for your comprehensive
commentary on Wimbledon and all its
dramas. I am only too pleased that
Leyton won. He has really worked
hard in the tournament and deserves
the prize. I am delighted for Australia
and for Australian tennis.

Goodonyamate

Lizwest
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  #55 (permalink)  
Old 8th July 2002, 21:15
RyadovoyKokoilin RyadovoyKokoilin is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 158
Talking Same here

Thanks Willie for posting the scores, and for the commentary.

Too bad... I actually thought Anna Kournikova(or however you spell it) might win for her country this time. Too bad... I don't think she has ever one anything... Oh well

But hey, thanks for posting the scores so that i don't have to watch ESPN for them

CaptainK
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  #56 (permalink)  
Old 27th July 2002, 14:33
maddog_mcclaymore
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I was Pleasantly Surprised By Wimbledon This Year!
It was a Great Tourney 4 Tennis!
Willie
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