Hewitt Closes On 600th Win; Smyczek Stops Sock
Indian Wells, U.S.A.
Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt clinched career win No. 599 after defeating fellow Australian Matt Ebden 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 on Day 1 of men’s action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Thursday.
"It's awkward," Hewitt told Tennis Channel of playing countryman Ebden. "We know each other’s games extremely well and it's tough to get fired up against a Davis Cup teammate. You've just got to try to put that aside when you are out there."
Hewitt, who won back-to-back titles in the desert in 2002-03, set up a second-round meeting with Acapulco finalist Kevin Anderson. “He’s got a big serve and forehand. I’ve just got to try to get that extra ball back against him.”
Watch Hewitt Interview | Watch Thursday Highlights
In earlier matches Thursday, 20-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely, the 2013 ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates award winner, prevailed against Igor Sijsling 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(1); Colombian Alejandro Falla defeated last week’s Sao Paulo champion Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4; and Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky close out a 6-4, 7-5 win over Lukasz Kubot.
Tim Smyczek trails Jack Sock by three spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings, and won three less points than his 21-year-old countryman on Thursday, but emerged victorious in the opening men’s match on Stadium 1.
Smyczek rolled out to a 5-1 lead in the decisive set, and though Sock recovered one break of serve, Smyczek broke for a fourth time to claim the 6-4, 1-6 6-4 victory in just over two hours.
Watch Smyczek Hot Shot
The 26-year-old Wisconsin native picks up his second win in Indian Wells, and next faces No. 28 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov. The in-form Ukrainian has made the biggest just into the Top 50 since the start of the season, climbing 26 spots to No. 31 following a runner-up showing in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Nadal) and semi-final in Acapulco (l. to Anderson).
There were two more American wins on Thursday. Louisiana native Ryan Harrison claimed his third victory of the season as he defeated Andrey Golubev 6-4, 7-5. Sam Querrey closed out the evening’s proceedings with a 6-3, 6-3 win over countryman Alex Kuznetsov. Both Harrison and Querrey advance to face Italian opposition, with clashes against Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi, respectively.
Radek Stepanek earned a clash with top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal after closing out a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in over Uzbekistani Denis Istomin. Nadal holds a 6-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the 35-year-old Stepanek, a former World No. 8.
Ivo Karlovic set a clash with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka after beating Alex Bogomolov Jr., 6-4, 6-4 in 69 minutes. The Croatian will look to overturn a 1-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Wawrinka, who is set to make his return to the ATP World Tour following his maiden Grand Slam triumph.