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Raonic Solid As He Begins Title Defence; Querrey Tops Hewitt In San Jose

San Jose, U.S.A.

Querrey© Alex Smith/SAP OpenSam Querrey prevailed over Lleyton Hewitt in three sets.

Two-time defending SAP Open champion Milos Raonic cruised in his title defence opener on Thursday, dismissing Michael Russell 6-2, 7-5 in San Jose. Raonic did not face a break point, winning 90 per cent of his first serve points in the 63-minute victory.

“I’m definitely comfortable here,” said Raonic. “I made a big emphasis on starting aggressive today, especially being the first match of the tournament and his second match of the tournament. I was able to play well.”

“I got into a little bit of a slump just trying to go for a bit too much on second serve returns. When I figured that out in the last game, it was much better.”

The 13th-ranked Raonic improved to 9-0 at the ATP World Tour 250 indoor hard-court tournament. The Canadian is seeking his fourth ATP World Tour crown this week. In the quarter-finals, the top seed squares off against sixth seed Denis Istomin in a re-match of last year’s final.

Istomin defeated Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, capitalising on all five of his break point chances to seal the win in one hour and 49 minutes. He has won three of his four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Becker. The 26-year-old Uzbek has advanced to the quarter-finals at three events this season, adding to last eight appearances at the Brisbane International (l. to Murray) and the Apia International Sydney (l. to Anderson). 

Third seed Sam Querrey topped former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-6(4) to book his place in the quarter-finals. Hewitt won six more points in the second-round clash, but in the final set tie-break, the Australian tossed in two double faults, the final one coming on match point. Querrey finished with 20 aces and claimed victory over the 2003 champion in two hours and 15 minutes.

“I won 12 of the first 14 points. I was just getting used to the surroundings. He started to get a little read on my serve and I got sloppy,” Querrey said. “Fortunately, I snuck through the tie-break and then I didn't play a great second set. In the third set, I thought I got my head back into it and played great.”

World No. 20 Querrey plays Alejandro Falla for a place in the semi-finals. Falla beat seventh-seeded Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 6-4 in 87 minutes.

Eighth seed Xavier Malisse battled past Australia's Matthew Ebden 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(1). Malisse prevailed in a decisive tie-break to advance in two hours and 27 minutes.

Wild card Steve Johnson reached his first ATP World Tour quarter-final after winning an all-American meeting with qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-3. Johnson saved all four break points he faced in the 58-minute victory. 

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