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Del Potro Earns Meeting With Idol Hewitt

New York, U.S.A.

del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro is tested in his first-round match at the US Open.

Juan Martin del Potro will face his idol, Lleyton Hewitt, in the second round after earning a hard-fought win on a rain-hit Wednesday in New York. Both players won the US Open title at 20 years of age.

"I just finished after four hours and a half," said del Potro. "Then I will have Lleyton Hewitt. It's maybe the tougher opponent without seeding. It's going to be really difficult for me."

Del Potro prevailed against Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(7), eight hours after first stepping on court. The pair had played just three games before all matches were suspended due to storms and heavy rain.

The 24-year-old Argentine waited out another brief rain delay on Arthur Ashe Stadium before serving out the third set, and needed to rally from a break down in the fourth. He clinched the victory on his fourth match point after four hours and 13 minutes.

"I felt good because I won the big battle for the first round," he said. "I think I was lucky maybe in the fourth set when I come back after being break down. But I'm okay. I feel good with my level. My forehand was good. My serve improved since the last tournament. That's important."

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Del Potro defeated Roger Federer in the 2009 final, and has a 20-5 match record at the US Open, while the 32-year-old Hewitt won the title in 2001 with victory over Pete Sampras and has a 44-11 tournament record.

Hewitt, who joined the other former World No. 1s at the No. 1 Celebration on Friday at the Waldorf Astoria, took just over three hours to defeat American wild card Brian Baker, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

He defeated del Potro in their most recent meeting, this past June at the Queen's Club, to draw level at 2-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head.

Marcos Baghdatis was the only player to advance before the rain delay, defeating Japanese qualifier Go Soeda 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Baghdatis recorded just his 12th win of the season as he hit 40 winners and won 75 per cent of his service points for victory in one hour and 31 minutes.

The 28-year-old Baghdatis will look to reach the third round in New York for the first time in eight appearances when he faces No. 17 seed Kevin Anderson. The South African defeated German Daniel Brands 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

In other first-round matches, 21st-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4 6-4 7-6(4); Indian qualifier Somdev Devvarman, a two-time NCAA singles champion, prevailed against Slovakian Lukas Lacko 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; and Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov dismissed Belgian David Goffin 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Defending champion Andy Murray is set to open his campaign in the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, while American James Blake begins his farewell tournament with a first-round match against Ivo Karlovic on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

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