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Mahut, Hewitt Reach Newport QFs

Newport, U.S.A.

Mahut 2© Kate Whitney LuceyNicolas Mahut is the defending champion in Newport.

Defending champion Nicolas Mahut reached the quarter-finals of the Hall Of Fame Tennis Championships on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australian qualifier Luke Saville. The Frenchman advanced in 70 minutes, converting four of his seven break points and firing seven aces.

The 32-year-old Mahut won his second ATP World Tour title last year in Newport, beating Lleyton Hewitt in the final. As he looks to reach the semi-finals for the third time at this ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tournament, he will face another Australian, Samuel Groth, on Friday. Groth struck 24 aces as he edged Malek Jaziri 7-6(7), 7-6(3) in one hour and 42 minutes.

"It was a tough match," said Mahut. "He won many matches at Wimbledon; he qualified and won a round. On this kind of surface you have to be really focused on your serve and take your opportunities. It was much better than yesterday."

Top seed John Isner improved to a 15-3 record at the American grass-court event with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over qualifier Austin Krajicek. The Tampa resident, who has twice hoisted the Newport trophy (2011-12), blasted 11 aces and broke three times during the 63-minute contest.

"It was a pretty clean match," said Isner. "I got an early lead on both sets and that helps so much. I play pretty well when I play [up a break]."

Watch Wednesday Highlights

The World No. 12 next faces fellow American Jack Sock, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over Rajeev Ram, in the quarter-finals. Both Isner and the seventh-seeded Sock are coming off career-best showings at Wimbledon: Isner reached the third round (l. to Lopez) and Sock claimed the doubles crown with partner Vasek Pospisil.

"[Sock] has an incredibly bright future," said Isner about his friend on the ATP World Tour. "He's got a lot of weapons in his game, especially with his forehand. He'll only get better."

Second seed Ivo Karlovic booked a quarter-final battle with Israel's Dudi Sela after the 6'11" Croat edged Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-5, 7-6(3) in one of Wednesday's final matches. The 31st-ranked Karlovic now leads 3-2 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with the Ukrainian. Sela upset eighth seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-1 in 50 minutes.

Third seed and 2013 runner-up Hewitt claimed his third consecutive quarter-final berth in Newport with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over qualifier Ante Pavic. Hewitt, a seven-time grass-court titlist (including Wimbledon 2002), secured the win in 65 minutes. The Australian next plays against sixth seed Steve Johnson.

"I was adjusted and ready for how the courts were playing today," said Hewitt. "I went out there with really good tactics and played them really well."

Johnson, 24 years old, reached his fourth ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season. The American was leading 6-3, 2-0 when his opponent, Tatsuma Ito, retired from the match with a left knee injury.

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