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Channel Open: Hewitt, Blake advance to final

Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt overcame a sluggish start to beat Paul Goldstein 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2006 15:29 IST
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Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt overcame a sluggish start to beat Paul Goldstein 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals of the Tennis Channel Open on Saturday, earning a chance to break a long title drought.

Hewitt, who has 25 career tournament titles, hasn't won one since Jan. 16, 2005 when he was victorious in his native Australia. Andy Murray of Britain beat him in the championship of the SAP Open last month in San Jose, California.

Hewitt, ranked No 10 in the world, will face fifth-seeded James Blake in Sunday's championship after the American beat Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (2), 6-1 in their semifinal match. Hewitt is now 4-0 for his career and 2-0 in 2006 against Goldstein.

Goldstein broke Hewitt's serve four times in the first set. But Hewitt won six of eight break-point attempts in the last two sets. "Halfway through the second set I felt like I was dictating play and being the better player out there, and playing the kind of tennis that I wanted to play," said Hewitt, who won eight of 13 break points for the match.

"It's like what happened against (Philipp) Kohlschreiber (who defeated Hewitt in January) in Adelaide. I went up 2-0 and then lost an early game in the third, and the whole momentum changed. I was very wary of that. That's why I wanted to play tough and put the pressure on him."

With the loss, Goldstein fell to 2-13 against top 10 opponents. "He started dictating play in the second (set)," said Goldstein. "I made a few errors early on, the momentum shifted and it was tough for me to get it back together. He's such a phenomenal competitor."

Blake never had his serve broken Saturday, riding the momentum from capturing a first-set tiebreaker to beat Karlovic and advance to the finals.

Blake won the last four points in the tiebreaker, capitalizing on three errors by Karlovic, including a double fault, to reach his second championship match of the year.

"It's a tricky proposition to play against him," said Blake, ranked No. 21 in the ATP. "You have to get your emotions in check. You have to take care of each one of those points instead of getting down on myself."

Blake needed only 28 minutes to win the second set, losing just two points on his serve. Karlovic's serve was clocked at 230 kph (143 mph) and he had five aces, but the 2.08-meter (6-foot-10) Croat committed 31 unforced errors.

"I got some confidence and kept it rolling," Blake said. Blake will be aiming for his fifth career title Sunday, but is winless in six matches against Hewitt.

"It's going to be a great match," Blake said. "We've had some great battles over the years, hopefully I can come out on top this time."