January 11, 1998: 16-year-old Lleyton Hewitt wins his first ATP title

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January 11, 1998: 16-year-old Lleyton Hewitt wins his first ATP title

Super talented Lleyton Hewitt made his professional debut on the big scene of the Australian Open in 1997 when he qualified for the main draw at the age of 15, losing to Sergi Bruguera in 3 sets. A year later, he entered the Adelaide event ranked 550th and claimed the title, in only his second ATP tournament in a career! Ranked 550th, Lleyton became the lowest ranked player who lifted an ATP trophy, and he is also the third youngest (16 years and 10 months) behind Aaron Krickstein and Michael Chang who did that in the 80's. I the final played on January 11, Lleyton took down his future coach Jason Stoltenberg by 3-6 6-3 7-6 in 2 hours and 9 minutes for an amazing success, making one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Hewitt's first ATP win came against Scott Draper, and he held off Woodforde's challenge in the second round, being a tie-break away from losing in straight sets. Things started to look serious when he toppled Vince Spadea, reaching the semi-final.

In that round, he faced the only player outside Top 100 but that was no other than Andre Agassi, a former world number 1. Lleyton again showed the mind of a true champion, beating Agassi 7-6 7-6. In the match with no breaks (Andre had 5 break points, Lleyton 2) the young Aussie won the tie breaks by 7-5 and 7-4 to continue his incredible run and advance the final.

Jason Stoltenberg was his ultimate rival, and the match went to the distance, into a third set tie break. Virtually nothing could separate the players but Lleyton won his 4th tie break in Adelaide that week, beating Jason by 3-6 6-3 7-6 to win the first out of many ATP titles.

Still at the age of 16, Lleyton became the youngest winner of the ATP title since Michael Chang in San Francisco in 1988, and it is safe to say he will not be reached or beaten anytime soon. ALSO READ: Australian Open: Brown saves 4 MP's vs Wu.

4 Americans reach final round .