Hewitt Hauls Himself Back from Brink in Cincinnati


Cincinnati (Ohio), Aug 19: Two-time runner-up Lleyton Hewitt led fellow Aussie Chris Guccione to win on Tuesday at the Cincinnati Masters with his upset of Swedish 12th seed Robin Soderling 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.

Playing after recovering from an elbow injury that had kept him out of Montreal, French Open finalist Soderling was unable to close out against the determined Hewitt.

The two-time Grand Slam champion Australian saved match points in the second-set tiebreaker on his way to turning it around for victory in the third.

"It was always gonna be a tough match," said the winner, now facing German Benjamin Becker in the second round.

"Soderling's been playing great the last three or four months. He wants to play on his terms, and he wants to dictate play. I had to weather the storm out there today and wait for my opportunities.

"The second-set tiebreak could have gone either way. But I played a good game the first game of the third set to break serve, and served well for the rest of that set."

Qualifier Guccione knocked off German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, hammering 19 aces in his 90-minute win.

Hewitt, a year removed from the hip surgery that saved his career, said he is felling fit.

"I have no points to defend, I didn't play this time last year. So this year I've gotten better and better as it's gone on," he said. "Wimbledon was where I played some of my best tennis."

James Blake made a misery return after last playing five weeks ago in a Davis Cup disaster.

The US player went down in a marathon lasting more than two and a half hours to Russian Igor Kunitsyn, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4. Blake last won a match in mid-June on grass.

Czech Tomas Berdych went through at the expense of 10th seed Fernando Gonzalez, who quit after losing the first set 6-4 after suffering with an existing knee injury.

Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez put out another seed as he accounted for number 11 countryman Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4).

Hewitt, who has been coming to Cincinnati for a decade without a title, achieved his comeback win after suffering with a hip injury in recent weeks in North America.

"I knew it would be a tough match," said the 28-year-old. "It was nice to get a win and go through."

Hewitt's compact game saw him deliver 19 winners against just 11 unforced errors. It contrasted sharply with the free-swinging Soderling's attack, which saw 55 winners but also 50 unforced errors.

Hewitt's victory was his 23rd at Cincinnati against seven losses at an event where he has reached the semi-finals or better five times.


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