Hewitt reaches final in Houston | sports | Hindustan Times
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Hewitt reaches final in Houston

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt reached his first clay court final in a decade with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev on Saturday at the US Men's Clay Court Championships.

sports Updated: Apr 12, 2009 18:19 IST

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt reached his first clay court final in a decade with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev on Saturday at the US Men's Clay Court Championships.

The Aussie veteran, trying to work his way back up the rankings after left hip surgery last year, will meet American Wayne Odesnik in the final.

Odesnik advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Bjorn Phau of Germany.

Hewitt won his 498th career match, moving him closer to joining Swiss star Roger Federer and Spain's Carlos Moya as the only active players with 500 wins.

A victory on Sunday would give Hewitt his first title on clay since he won at Delray Beach in 1999.

Hewitt's last appearance in a final was in Las Vegas in 2007, where he won his 26th career title. His 2008 season without a title saw Hewitt's streak of 10 years with at least one title end.

"It feels fantatsic and it has been a long time coming," Hewitt said. "I am really moving well and I'm moving a lot better than I thought in my first tournament on clay. I haven't dropped a set all week, and I hope to continue that tomorrow."

Neither player could break serve until the final game of the second set, when Russia's Korolev fell behind love-40 and lost on the first match point as he fired a backhand long.

Hewitt didn't face a break point in the match and seized control in the first-set tiebreaker courtesy of four straight errors from Korolev, then pocketed the set with a forehand winner.

Odesnik is trying to become the first American to win a clay court event since 2006 when Mardy Fish won this title.

Leading 5-1 in the second set, Odesnik experienced a hiccup. Facing break point Odesnik served what he thought was an ace but it was ruled a fault. He proceeded to double-fault to surrender the break.

However, the 100th-ranked American, served out the match in the ninth game ranked 100 in the world, served it out That only delayed the outcome. Odesnik held in the ninth game, sealing the win on his second match point as Phau sailed a forehand long.