Double celebration as Hewitt and Clijsters triumph

Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters left the Pacific Life Open with matching "his" and "hers" titles, the Australian winning the men's championship and his Belgian girlfriend taking the women's.

"He's been in these types of situations, in big finals more than I have," said the 19–year–old Clijsters, who beat Lindsay Davenport 6–4, 7–5 on Sunday.

"I was happy I got to play first because otherwise I would have been watching more of his match. I think then it would have been harder for me to focus for my own match." The top–ranked Hewitt beat the weary Gustavo Kuerten 6–1, 6–1.

"It's obviously fantastic for the both of us to come here, No. 1 seeds, and everyone wants to knock you off, and we've both been able to handle the pressure and situation very well this week," said Hewitt, a 22–year–old Australian who not only defended his Indian Wells title but won his second tournament in as many weeks.

"It's a bit awkward going on straight after her. I'd much rather be out there supporting her than sitting in the locker room waiting."

Clijsters, ranked No 3, said earlier that she's almost more nervous watching her boyfriend of some three years play than when she's on the court herself.

Was Hewitt worried about her match? "He was still sleeping when I had to leave. I don't think he was worried about mine too much," she said. Clijsters earned $332,000, and Hewitt got $400,000. Asked if the champions pool their money, Hewitt smiled and said, "I don't know about that."

Hewitt was never threatened by Kuerten, who had only about two hours to rest after finishing his rain–delayed semifinal with a 6–2, 3–6, 6–2 victory over Rainer Schuettler.

"It was very unusual and very tough as well," Kuerten said. "I had a big opponent and a tough schedule that I couldn't deal with. In the first games, I was a little tired here and there, then more and more."

Kuerten, a three–time French Open champion and former No. 1, had trouble keeping the ball in play, making 30 unforced errors to Hewitt's 10.

Hewitt, No 1 since November 19, 2001, had almost a 24–hour break between his semifinal victory over qualifier Vince Spadea and the championship match.

Davenport, a former No. 1 working her way back from last year's knee surgery, had 10 double faults and made 39 unforced errors in her loss to Clijsters, who had only 27 errors.

Davenport didn't like the early starting times for the finals, tailored for television. She said she got up around 6:30 a.m. – "a little ridiculous for a final. It wasn't a great match, no question about it," Davenport said. "I don't think I've ever warmed up for a final at 7:20 in the morning, especially after finishing so late the other night (around 11pm).

"It's disappointing because, win or lose, you'd like to play a more high–quality match for the fans, or even just for yourself."

Davenport was denied an unprecedented third Indian Wells championship; she won the event in 1997 and 2000. The title was the second of the year for Clijsters, who won the Sydney tournament in January.

Kuerten and Schuettler had to wait overnight to complete their match, which was suspended Saturday evening after a wait of nearly 5½ hours. Kuerten won the first set on Saturday, and Schuettler took the first game of the second set before rain halted play. Hewitt had defeated Spadea 7–6 (5), 6–1 before the rain started.

Meanwhile, Wayne Ferreira says the proposed breakaway International Men's Tennis Association will be formed when a group of players meet during the Miami Masters, which started yesterday. Ferreira, who won the doubles title at Indian Wells when he and Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat the Americans Bob and Mike Bryan on Sunday, said more than 20 players would sign on and that it would "launch next week".

The ATP Players' Council vice president, Todd Woodbridge, said last Tuesday the IMTA would fizzle out. "They don't have enough support," he said. "It's unlikely they'll get off the ground because what they are proposing is already in place."

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