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August 20, 2009

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Hewitt rallies to oust Soderling

LLEYTON Hewitt saved two match points in beating Robin Soderling 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 in the first round of the Cincinnati Open on Tuesday.

Hewitt, a two-time tournament runner-up, saved both match points in the second-set tiebreaker at 6-5 and 8-7 before winning it 10-8 then breaking the Swede in the first game of the last set and holding on.

Hewitt's health is his main concern - he had hip surgery last August and lost in the first round at Montreal last week because of a leg injury.

"My body felt a lot better," the former No. 1 said. "That was the difference. It gave me a lot of confidence to be able to actually go out there and compete. Last week in Montreal, I couldn't compete, which is frustrating."

Soderling, seeded 12th, was joined on the sidelines by No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez and No. 11 Fernando Verdasco.

Gonzalez retired because of a sore knee after losing the first set 4-6 to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, while Verdasco was beaten by fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4).

Through to the third round were ninth-seeded Gilles Simon, who beat Igor Andreev of Russia 7-6 (5), 6-7 (6), 6-1, and David Ferrer of Spain, who topped Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-2 in their third matchup this year. Ferrer has won the last two.

Simon has been struggling with a knee injury recently but said he was happy with the way he was hitting the ball.

"I'm actually playing good," he said. "I practised a lot but I have some frustration on the court because I just can't do what I want, I can't run as usual.

"It's not easy for me, because I like to fight. I like to feel that it's going to be hard for my opponent to win every point. That's not the way I'm playing."

Another Russian, Igor Kunitsyn, beat 2007 runner-up James Blake 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the American's first match since Wimbledon.

Other winners are Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, Jurgen Melzer of Austria, Chris Guccione of Australia, Philipp Petzschner of Germany, John Isner of the United States, and Andreas Seppi of Italy, who faces Rafael Nadal next.


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