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Australians Hewitt, Tomic Win Openers

Beijing, China

Tomic© GettyBernard Tomic beat Chinese No. 1 Ze Zhang in the first round.

With a combined age of 67 and a whole host of surgeries between them, Lleyton Hewitt defeated Tommy Haas 7-6(6), 6-3 in the first round of the China Open in Beijing on Monday evening. It was their 11th meeting (Hewitt leads 7-4), but their first contest in nine years, since Hewitt prevailed in the US Open quarter-finals.

The 32-year-old Hewitt squandered a 4-2 advantage in the first set before saving three set points down 3-6 in the subsequent tie-break to clinch the opener, reeling off five successive points. Haas twice led by a break at the start of the second set, but could not maintain his advantage and Hewitt broke again to claim victory in one hour and 42 minutes.

"I think he was a bit frustrated after losing that tie-break in the first set, so the start the second set the ball was always in his court in terms of he was just taking it to me," said Hewitt.

"It would either go in for a clean winner or he would make an error. So I was just trying to be more solid and play percentage tennis out there. In the end, I was lucky I could keep breaking back every time I got broken. I was able to consolidate the break when I went up 4-2."

Former World No. 1 Hewitt is coming off successful US Open and Davis Cup campaigns. The Australian defeated Juan Martin del Potro en route to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows (l. to Youzhny) before leading his nation to victory in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs away to Poland. The right-hander is making his debut in Beijing and goes on to face Fabio Fognini for a spot in the quarter-finals.

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In a match featuring 11 breaks of serve, Fognini edged Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes. The Italian is looking for a return to the form that carried him to three successive ATP World Tour finals in July in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Umag. 

Bernard Tomic defeated Chinese No. 1 Ze Zhang 7-6(4), 6-4. Zhang served for the first set twice, but Tomic fought back to claim victory in 89 minutes.

"The main reason why I lost today is I didn't do well on my serve," said World No. 193 Zhang, who beat Richard Gasquet to reach the quarter-finals last year. "I double faulted on some critical points. If I could have handled the serve a little bit better, I would have had more chance to win. Unfortunately, I didn't."

The No. 55-ranked Tomic will look to reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since June at Eastbourne (l. to Simon) when he faces either fifth seed Richard Gasquet or Florian Mayer in the second round.

Qualifier Roberto Bautista Agut won 77 per cent of his service points as he upset Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2. The Spaniard is making his debut in Beijing and wrapped up victory in 65 minutes, breaking Dimitrov three times. He next will play either eighth seed John Isner or Chinese wild card Di Wu.

Philipp Kohlschreiber set a potential second-round meeting with Rafael Nadal after battling past Albert Montanes 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(4). Nadal opens his campaign against qualifier Santiago Giraldo on Tuesday.

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Third seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer defeated Yen-Hsun Lu and Di Wu to reach the quarter-finals. The Pakistani/Dutch pairing are currently fifth in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings and are looking to earn valuable points in their bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

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