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08/04 21:19 CDT Hewitt opens last North American hard-court swing with win
Hewitt opens last North American hard-court swing with win
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) --- Lleyton Hewitt's final swing through the North American
hard-court circuit began with a victory Tuesday at the Citi Open.
Hewitt, a former No. 1 and two-time major champion, beat qualifier John-Patrick
Smith 6-3, 6-4 in an all-Australian first-round matchup at the U.S. Open tuneup
The 34-year-old Hewitt has said he will retire after next year's Australian
Open. So he is on something of a farewell tour, receiving wild-card entries
into tournaments because his ranking has slid to 163rd after a series of
injuries and poor results.
Tuesday's victory over Smith, who is ranked 133rd, was only the third win in
singles this season for Hewitt in 10 matches.
Hewitt's 30 career titles include the U.S. Open in 2001, and Wimbledon in 2002.
He won the Washington tournament in 2004, and his name appears in white,
capital letters alongside those of other past champions on a blue overhang in
the main stadium, where the occasional cry of "Come on, Lleyton!" rang out
A rain delay halted play for about an hour at 2-all in the second set. When
Hewitt, wearing his trademark backward white baseball cap, finished off the win
a little before 10 p.m. with a volley at the end of a 25-stroke exchange, he
pumped his fist. His 6-year-old son, Cruz, wearing a backward black hat, rose
from his front-row seat and applauded.
In earlier matches, three American men won: 15th-seeded Jack Sock topped Ruben
Bemelmans 7-6 (7), 6-3, Steve Johnson beat Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-3, and Sam
Querrey edged Go Soeda 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian
Open runner-up, withdrew because of a groin injury.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic and the man he beat in the final at New
York last year, Kei Nishikori, were both scheduled to play Tuesday night.
In women's action, Sam Stosur recorded her 500th career victory, moving into
the second round by beating Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2. Christina McHale
knocked off No. 7 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, while top-seeded
Ekaterina Makarova beat French Open quarterfinalist Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5,
Stosur is a 31-year-old Australian who won the 2011 U.S. Open. She is the
seventh active woman with at least 500 match wins --- across all levels,
including at ITF, WTA, Grand Slam events, main draw and qualifying --- and at
least one Grand Slam singles title.
"Guess it proves how old I am," Stosur said after ending Tuesday's match by
serving it out at love, closing with an ace at 116 mph (187 kph).
To mark the occasion, the second-seeded Stosur was presented on court with a
white-frosted cake, decorated with a yellow tennis ball and the words,
"Congratulations on your 500th."
Stosur's career singles record is 500-336, a .598 winning percentage.
Asked whether one of those victories stands out from the others, Stosur
scratched her head and joked: "Maybe the U.S. Open final?"
She beat Serena Williams in the title match at Flushing Meadows four years ago.
When Stosur was asked what milestone she's thinking about next, she replied,
"Let's go for 501 tomorrow." She will face Irina Falconi of the United States
in the second round.
Minutes after the match ended, Mladenovic cried while she sat on the ground and
leaned against a glass door across the way from the players' lounge.
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