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Hewitt Claims Newport Semi-final Spot; Sock Upsets Isner

Newport, U.S.A.

Hewitt© Kate Whitney LuceyLleyton Hewitt has reached the Newport final in the past two years.

Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt stayed on track for a third consecutive appearance in the Newport final after dispatching sixth seed Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships quarter-finals on Friday.

The 33 year old improved to a 12-3 record at the grass-court event where he has finished runner-up in the past two years. The Australian World No. 43 converted three of four break points against his American opponent, and served at 61 per cent during the 78-minute encounter.

"I feel pretty good at the moment. I'm getting my match toughness back. I think that's important when you're out there," said Hewitt. "You're on auto-pilot on the big points."

Hewitt, a champion in Brisbane this year (d. Federer), will face Jack Sock, the reigning Wimbledon doubles champion (w/ Pospisil), in the semi-finals.

Johnson was bidding for his second ATP World Tour semi-final berth after reaching his maiden semi-final in Delray Beach earlier in the season as a qualifier (l. to Anderson). The former collegiate-tennis standout has risen almost 100 places in the Emirates ATP Rankings since the beginning of the year (No. 160 to No. 69).

"I'm glad to be where I am today [in the rankings]," said Johnson. "Today's match is just a loss and I have the hard-court swing starting in a couple of weeks."

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The 21-year-old Sock recorded his first victory over top seed John Isner in four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in the Newport quarter-finals on Friday. Sock, fresh from winning his second Grand Slam title (also 2011 US Open mixed doubles w/ Oudin), secured the 6-4, 7-6(4) triumph in 88 minutes. The seventh seed saved all three break points he faced against Isner, and won 33 of 42 first-serve points serving at 57 per cent for the match.

"I'm pretty high on confidence right now," said Sock. "Today was a good win for me. I was pretty happy about it.

"This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year. I love the city, I love the town. I love the tournament. It's nice finishing up the European swing and coming back to play the first tournament in the United States in such a cool area," added Sock.

Isner was attempting to add a third Newport crown to his collection, having hoisted the trophy in 2011 (d. Rochus) and 2012 (d. Hewitt).

"I missed a lot of easy shots. I didn't [convert] the three break points," said Isner. "Matches go that way sometimes."

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Guccione/Hewitt Into Newport Final
Australians Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt advanced to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships final with a 7-6(1), 6-1 victory over Austin Krajicek and John-Patrick Smith on Friday. The tandem of Nicolas Mahut and Sergiy Stakhovsky, who upset second seeds Daniel Nestor and Adil Shamasdin 6-3, 6-4, in the quarter-finals, next play Jonathan Erlich and Rajeev Ram for a place in the Newport final.

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© Ben Solomon

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