- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The L-Train is churning through the Legg Mason Tennis Classic at breakneck speed. Next stop: the quarterfinals.

The Lleyton Hewitt Express is stopping for no one in preparation for the U.S. Open in two weeks. Little-known Colombian Alejandro Falla just happened to be in Hewitt’s way last night.

Displaying a wide variety of weapons, the second-seeded Hewitt rolled over Falla 6-3, 6-2 in the second round at William H.G. FitzGerald Center.

Apparently, Falla wanted to see Hewitt’s complete repertoire after jumping out to a 2-1 lead in the first set. And that’s what he got.

The Australian broke Falla’s service twice after trailing and unveiled an unbelievable drop shot, a wicked two-hand backhand, and an overpowering forehand that pinned Falla on the baseline for the rest of the match. In Aussie lingo, no problem, mate.

“I feel like I’m hitting the ball well,” Hewitt said. “Tonight was a little bit patchy here and there — there are things you can sharpen up — but then again this isn’t a Grand Slam, either. You want to be hitting in real peak form in just under two weeks’ time.”

Hewitt, 23, who already has won two tournaments (Sydney and Rotterdam) and has a 46-13 record this year, is the world’s No.5 player. In the two matches he has played in this tournament, Hewitt has lost just eight games. He destroyed Danish veteran Kenneth Carlsen 6-1, 6-2 in Monday’s first round and followed that impressive performance with last night’s clinic.

This was the first time Hewitt had faced the 20-year-old Falla, which explains how the young South American broke his serve twice in the first set. Hewitt had little information about Falla, other than he has played just 11 matches on the ATP circuit in his career.

“Obviously, at the start he played his best tennis, I think and that’s the mind frame he had to have with very little to lose out there, and he was really going for it and taking his opportunities,” Hewitt said. “If he was able to keep that standard up that he played those first couple of games, when he broke me through the whole match, then he would be a lot higher ranked [No. 120] than he is at the moment.”

Hewitt next will play France’s No.7 seed, Cyril Saulnier, who has gone 10-3 in singles matches since Wimbledon.

“It’s going to be a tough match, I’m happy to play against him,” Saulnier said. “It’s going to be a good test about my game — what I’m going to do this summer. I have to stay confident and keep doing everything the same way.”

In other second-round matches, fourth-seeded Robby Ginepri picked himself up off center court after getting stunned in the first set by Israeli qualifier Harel Levy and rallied to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win. Saulnier defeated Belgium’s Gilles Elseneer 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), and Raemon Sluiter of the Netherlands upset No.6 seed Alberto Martin 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-2). Sluiter will face Ginepri in tomorrow’s quarters.


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