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Hewitt survives first hurdle

FORMER world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt survived a challenge from Israeli Dudi Sela to secure a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 first-round win at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, on Wednesday.

The No. 92-ranked Hewitt, playing because of a tournament wildcard, will hope to end an 11-match losing streak against top 10 opponents when he faces No. 7 Gilles Simon in the second round.

In blustery conditions, the 28-year-old Australian dropped serve five times but converted six of 11 break point opportunities on Sela's serve to seal the win in just under two hours.

The former Wimbledon and US Open champion, a three-time semifinalist at Key Biscayne, slipped in the rankings last year after four months out for hip surgery and is hoping to improve his ranking significantly before Wimbledon this year.

Hewitt is in the bottom half of the draw with No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Novak Djokovic and American Andy Roddick.

Four American qualifiers advanced to the second round: Taylor Dent beat Ricardo Mellow 6-1, 6-4; Robert Kendrick beat French veteran Arnaud Clement 6-3, 7-6 (5); Michael Russell overcame Victor Hanescu; and Kevin Kim progressed when Michael Llodra retired with a groin muscle injury after winning the first set 6-3. Fabrice Santoro was one of two Frenchmen to advance, beating Brazilian qualifier Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Julien Benneteau had a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over fellow Frenchman Florent Serra.

On the women's side, Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic beat Patricia Mayr of Austria 6-4, 6-2 and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova defeated American Melanie Oudin 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Jelena Dokic, a former Wimbledon semifinalist who returned to the top 100 ?? after a long climb back from a ranking in the 600s ?? after a surprising quarterfinal run at the Australian Open in January, beat Romania's Edina Gallovits 6-3, 7-6 (5). Women's defending champion Serena Williams and the other seeded players received first-round byes.


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