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Hewitt Battles For 600th Win, Faces Nadal Next

Miami, U.S.A.



Australian Lleyton Hewitt celebrated his 600th match win on Thursday at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, as he fought from a break down in the second set to defeat Dutchman Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Hewitt rallied to get back on serve at 3-all in the second set and rolled through the next three games. He went up the decisive break, 4-3 in the third set, as he hit a backhand lob winner over Haase. Hewitt clinched the victory after one hour and 57 minutes with another lob winner on break point.

"He was serving really well and hitting his forehand well, so I had to try and break that down as much as possible," said Hewitt. "I felt like I stepped on my returns a little bit more as the match went on. When I was able to get my teeth into that second set, I started to get the momentum and the upper hand."

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The 33-year-old Hewitt is the third active player to win 600 matches, behind Roger Federer (942) and Rafael Nadal (675). Hewitt and Nadal will face off in the second round in their 11th encounter and first in four years.  Nadal has won their past five meetings - including three clashes at Roland Garros - to take a 6-4 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

"Obviously taking on the World No. 1 is not going to be easy, but that’s why I still play the game, to have the opportunity to have a crack at the best players," said the Australian.

Hewitt’s countryman, Bernard Tomic, did not fare as well in his first match since undergoing hip surgeries following the Australian Open. The 21 year old managed to win just 13 points in a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in 28 minutes and 20 seconds. 

Nieminen next plays No. 22 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who upset Nadal in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open before reaching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final.

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Paes/Stepanek Upset In Opener
Fourth seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek bowed out in a tough first-round match against Australian Open finalists Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 6-3, 7-6(7). It marked the Indian-Czech duo's first loss at the Sony Open Tennis. Paes and Stepanek had won the title on their team's one previous visit in 2012.

Fifth-seeded Spaniards David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, the reigning Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champions, made their way into the second round with a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Germans Andre Begemann and Florian Mayer.

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© Ben Solomon

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