SYDNEY, Jan 15: Lleyton Hewitt boosted his confidence ahead of next week's Australian Open by brushing aside Czech qualifier Ivo Minar 7-5 6-0 in the final of the Sydney International on Saturday.
The world number three reeled off the first five games of the match and also the last eight to successfully defend his title. Top seed Hewitt's win helped provide Australia with a rare double as Alicia Molik captured the women's trophy with a 6-7 6-4 7-5 victory over compatriot Samantha Stosur in a gripping final that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
Minar mounted a brief comeback when he won five games on the trot to level the opening set at 5-5 but Hewitt immediately raised his game. The 23-year-old Australian's triumph was his fourth in Sydney.
The last man to win the event, formally known as the New South Wales Open, as many times was John Bromwich, who won seven between 1937 and 1949. Hewitt went into the final as a short-priced favourite to clinch his 24th career title after dropping only one set all week while Minar, ranked 158th in the world, surprised everyone by reaching his first ATP final.
The 20-year-old Czech had come to Sydney hoping to get match practice before the qualifying draw for the Australian Open. But his unexpected progress forced him to pull out of the qualifying draw for Melbourne and the chance to play in his first grand slam. He said his only option now was to fly to Germany and compete in a challenger event.
MEN: Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) beat Ivo Minar (Czech Republic) 7-5 6-0.
WOMEN: Alicia Molik (Australia) beat Samantha Stosur (Australia) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-5.
GONZALEZ SEIZES TROPHY
WELLINGTON: Fifth seed Fernando Gonzalez eased past Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-4 6-2 in the final of the Auckland Open on Saturday. The Chilean broke serve once in the opening set and twice in the second to clinch victory in 72 minutes and capture his first hard court title after winning four other tournaments on clay.
QUALIFIER WINS CLASSIC
CANBERRA: Serbian teenager Ana Ivanovic beat Melinda Czink of Hungary 7-5 6-1 to win the Canberra Classic on Saturday and capture her first WTA title.
MELBOURNE: World number one Roger Federer completed the perfect preparation for the defence of his Australian Open title next week when he beat Andy Roddick 6-4 7-5 to win the Kooyong Classic on Saturday.
Roddick, the world number two, hammered down nine aces but one break of serve in each set was enough to give Federer his ninth win over the American in 10 meetings.
FINAL RESULTS: Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt Andy Roddick (U.S.) 6-4 7-5.
3RD-4TH PLACE PLAYOFF: Tim Henman (Britain) bt Andre Agassi (U.S.) 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-5. -Reuters