Hewitt and Lapentti reach first indoor final

Lleyton Hewitt sped past eighth-seeded Vincent Spadea of the United States 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday at the Lyon Grand Prix, to reach the final in his first appearance on the European indoor circuit.

Lleyton Hewitt sped past eighth-seeded Vincent Spadea of the United States 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday at the Lyon Grand Prix, to reach the final in his first appearance on the European indoor circuit.

Hewitt, ranked a career-high 27th, will meet sixth-seeded Nicolas Lapentti in the final, the Ecuadorian having once again fought back from a set down to beat Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 in his semi-final.

"I'm a little surprised to find myself in the final," said Hewitt, who has only ever played two other indoor events, both in Singapore. "I'm less surprised to see Lapentti in the final."

Lapentti, however, is no indoor specialist himself and had never won a match on carpet before arriving in Lyon. The pair, who have never met, are each seeking their second career titles.

The 18-year-old Hewitt had little difficulty getting past Spadea, sweeping aside the sluggish American in 1 hour, 21 minutes to reach his fifth career final.

Still feeling the effects of his marathon quarterfinal match against top-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Spadea appeared sluggish and worn. "I got off to such a strong start and I'm sure he didn't feel like playing a long match," said Hewitt, whose performance in the French City strengthened his chances of replacing injured compatriot Patrick Rafter in Australia's Davis Cup final against France in Nice this December. "If he'd had an early break, it might have been a different match."

Spadea admitted his quarterfinal victory over Kafelnikov had cost him. "I was tired and I felt I was playing the same match as last night," Spadea said. "It didn't feel like I'd left the court at all.

"But it wasn't just my lack of form. Hewitt played really well today."

Hewitt, who dropped just one set on way to the final, may once again benefit from his opponent's fatigue in the final.

Lapentti has been made to work overtime for his place in his first career indoor final, rallying back from a set down in all four of his matches in Lyon this week. "I'm not 100 percent," acknowledged Lapentti, a career-high 14 in the world rankings. "I'm a little tired.

"Hewitt is a fighter who runs for the ball so I expect a long and difficult match tomorrow," said Lapentti, whose sudden run of indoor form ÿ after going 0-10 until a victory in his first round match at the Grand Slam Cup - has left him in contention for a place in the season-ending World Championships in Hannover in November. "But when you're in the final, you manage to find the energy somehow."

Meeting each other for the first time, Lapentti and Gustafsson cautiously probed each others' game for weaknesses in a tightly-played opening set without success, neither player managing a break.

Lapentti suddenly appeared ready to take control in the tiebreak, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. But the veteran Swede refused to buckle, sweeping the next five points on way to winning the tiebreak 7-5.

The loss did nothing to discourage Lapentti, who came back from a set down in all three of his earlier matches. The sixth seeded Ecuadorian's perseverance was finally rewarded in the second set with the first break of the match, as he took Gustafsson's serve to go up 5-3.

But the unflappable Swede immediately broke back, sending the set to a tiebreak, this time with Lapentti battling back from 3-1 down to prevail. The efforts of the two tiebreaks in a stuffy arena seemed to deflate the 32-year-old Swede, the oldest player in the tournament, with Lapentti jumping to a 4-1 lead in the final set and cruising to a comfortable win.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory