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Hewitt shows Roche polish to advance in Sydney

sports Updated: Jan 08, 2008 16:26 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

Australian Lleyton Hewitt mixed serve and volley with his natural counter-punching style to reach the second round of the Sydney International here on Tuesday.

The former world number one pressured Frenchman Nicolas Mahut's service to come away with a solid 6-3, 6-4 win in 87 minutes to set up an all-Australian match with big-serving Davis Cup team-mate Chris Guccione on Wednesday.

Hewitt, now ranked 21, is working under experienced coach Tony Roche, who has been on the practice court for hours with his new charge, tuning up his game for next week's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Hewitt, normally a rigid two-handed baseliner, has introduced more of a serve-volley game under Roche's tutelage and is not yet fully comfortable with the tactic in his bid to make up ground on world number one Roger Federer in the rankings.

"It's not my natural game," Hewitt said after beating the 44th-ranked Mahut.

Mahut held match point against Andy Roddick in last year's final on grass at Queen's in London, only to lose to the American in a third-set tiebreaker.

"I'm definitely getting more comfortable (playing serve and volley), but I still have got to be able to put it into practice," Hewitt said.

Hewitt, the former Wimbledon and US Open champion, said he had a lot of break point opportunities on Mahut's serve to put pressure on the Frenchman.

"It was a matter of trying to stay on top of that and not get too worried about losing my serve.

"He played a pretty flashy game to break my serve in the first set, but I bounced back straight away breaking him again... that was a huge positive."

Mahut's exit capped a dark day for the French men's contingent, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Hewitt in Adelaide last week, bowing out to Italian Andreas Seppi 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Paul-Henri Mathieu retired with a left hamstring injury after losing the opening set to Russian Evgeny Korolev.

Czech Radek Stepanek knocked out tournament second seed Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-4, 6-2, while Russian Dmitry Tursunov eased past Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3.

Sydney International results

Results from matches in the Sydney International tennis tournament played on Tuesday

(x denotes seed):

Men's singles
1st Rd

Chris Guccione (AUS) bt Alberto Martin (ESP) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4
Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Tommy Robredo (ESP x2) 6-4, 6-2
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) bt Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 6-3, 6-3
Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Evgeny Korolev (RUS) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 6-1 retired (left hamstring)
Steve Darcis (BEL) bt Joseph Sirianni (AUS) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS x6) bt Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
Ivo Minar (CZE) bt Alun Jones (AUS) 6-2, 7-5
Carlos Moya (ESP x5) bt Stefan Koubek (AUT) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Women's singles
2nd Rd


Justine Henin (BEL x1) bt Lucie Safarova (CZE) walkover
Kaia Kanepi (EST) bt Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) bt Sybille Bammer (AUT) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
Ana Ivanovic (SRB x4) bt Virginie Razzano (FRA) 6-1, 2-6, 7-5
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x2) bt Shahar Peer (ISR) 6-3, 6-4
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) bt Marion Bartoli (FRA x7) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) bt Daniela Hantuchova (SVK x6) 6-4, 6-2
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x3) bt Tatiana Golovin (FRA) 6-1, 2-6, 6-3