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Lu Knocks Out Hewitt; Haas Falls

Delray Beach, U.S.A.

Jeremy Chardy entered the week ranked a career-high No. 52.© CameraSportJeremy Chardy entered the week ranked a career-high No. 52.

Eighth seed Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei denied 1999 champion Lleyton Hewitt a welcome return at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, knocking out the Aussie 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 on Tuesday at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament.

Hewitt broke Lu to get back on serve at 3-2 after falling behind early in the third set, but was held off the scoreboard the remainder of the way. Hewitt dropped his next two service games as Lu wrapped up the victory in just under two hours.

The 25-year-old Lu reached a career-high No. 57 ranking last week, and achieved his best Grand Slam finish in January after upsetting No. 11 David Nalbandian to reach the third round at the Australian Open. He next faces another past Delray Beach champion, 2000 winner Stefan Koubek, for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Two-time ATP World Tour Champion Hewitt had titled in his only previous event appearance in 1999, when the tournament was contested on green clay at Coral Springs. Hewitt, who was hobbled most of the 2008 tennis season with a hip injury, had moved up 25 spots in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings to No. 78 after reaching the Memphis semi-finals last week (l. to Roddick).

Tommy Haas, the champion on his event debut in 2006, fell in his opening match at Delray Beach for the second straight year, succumbing to French No. 7 seed Jeremy Chardy (pictured above) 7-6(7), 6-3. The 22-year-old Chardy entered the week ranked a career-high No. 52, having reached his first ATP World Tour final earlier this month at Johannesburg (l. to Tsonga).

American Vince Spadea won his first match of the 2009 ATP World Tour season (1-3) after defeating German Denis Gremelmayr 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes. Spadea won 80 per cent of his first serve points and converted six of his 12 break point chances, while saving 10 of the 15 he faced on serve, to defeat Gremelmayr for the second straight year in Delray Beach.

The 34-year-old Boca Raton resident made his tournament debut in 1996, and now improves to a 20-11 event record. He has reached the quarter-finals or better in his past five appearances, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2004 (l. to Mello).

Spadea next faces top-seeded countryman Mardy Fish, who advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Canadian Frank Dancevic. Fish is also a past Delray Beach finalist, finishing as runner-up to Jan-Michael Gambill in 2003. World No. 20 Fish, who reached the final two weeks ago at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in San Jose (l. to Stepanek), leads the head-to-head series against Spadea 3-1 having won their past three meetings.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis made a winning debut in Delray Beach as he upset No. 3 seed Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-2. Former Top 10 player Baghdatis entered the week ranked No. 100, having dropped in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings after injuries limited him to just 12 tournaments last year. This season, he has a 7-5 record with his best results the quarter-finals at Johannesburg (l. to Ferrer) and fourth round at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic).

In other matches Tuesday, Russian qualifier Evgeny Korolev upset fourth-seeded countryman Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 7-6(3) and Israeli Dudi Sela made his way into the second round, leading Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 4-1 when the German retired with a left wrist injury.

Meanwhile, three Americans fell in their first-round matches. Qualifiers Taylor Dent and Ryan Sweeting fell in straight sets to German Mischa Zverev and Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, respectively. Sixteen-year-old wild card Evan King made his ATP World Tour debut in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Kazakhstani Andrey Golubev.

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