- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt pulled out a tight match 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4 against unseeded Vincent Spadea in 2 hours, 31 minutes on stadium court in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic last night.

After double-faulting on one match point, Hewitt regained his composure and closed out his match against Spadea, who displayed an uncanny ability to track down balls and hit winners.

“He is a tough player to play sometimes because he is so flashy,” Hewitt said. “I hit some good first serves out there and swung him out wide, but he is just slashing on them the whole time, and some go out about five or six meters long, and others go for clean winners. It is awkward to play against a guy like that. Sometimes you go into your shell a little bit more than you want.”

Hewitt, who appeared uncharacteristically subdued last night, let out a trademark “Come on!” and fist pump after pulling out the second set in dramatic fashion.

In the second-set tiebreaker, Spadea took a 5-3 lead. But a double-fault evened the score at 5-5 before Hewitt closed out the tiebreaker 7-5.

“That was the biggest point of the match for me,” Spadea said. “I just kind of went for it. I didn’t want to play it tentatively, so I can’t really be discouraged about that. But at the same time I didn’t execute it, so I’m always going to be looking back, figuring out why I did that.”

Hewitt, ranked No. 12 in the world, has beaten No. 93 Spadea six consecutive times.

Fish, Gambill advance

Two Americans advanced to the round of 16, with 16th seed Mardy Fish taking down Tomas Zib 6-4, 6-4 and Jan-Michael Gambill outlasting Janko Tipsarevic 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Fish, once one of the game’s top prospects, underwent two wrist surgeries in 2005 and fell to No. 277. Since recovering, Fish has climbed to No. 70 in the world, winning the singles title in Houston in April.

Fish rocketed 13 aces and held on to 96 percent of points on his first serve. However, Fish only successfully hit 46 percent of his first serves.

“I would have liked to have served at a little higher percentage on my first serve,” Fish said. “I played a tight match against him in Miami a couple years ago. I knew what to expect. He is a very solid player, very dangerous. So I had to play well, and I did.”

Fish will face Andrea Stoppini in the next round at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. Stoppini has already sent two Americans home, defeating Paul Goldstein 6-3, 6-2, then Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3.

Gambill, another once-successful American who has had to battle through a string of injuries, picked up his first main-draw win of the year - with a bit of luck.

After losing in the final round of qualifying Sunday, Gambill was given the “lucky loser” spot to fill in for injured Andy Roddick.

Gambill capitalized on the opportunity and pulled out a victory after dropping the first set. He broke Tipsarevic’s serve four out of seven times in the final two sets.

Gambill will face 14th-seeded Tim Henman today in the round of 16. They are 3-3 all time against each other, but Henman has won their last three meetings.

Doubles trouble

The doubles tandem of Bob and Mike Bryan dominated Jordan Kerr and Bobby Reynolds 6-4, 6-2.

The Bryan brothers, No. 1 in the world with Grand Slam victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, are heavily favored to win the Legg Mason.

They will face local fan favorite Goldstein and Jim Thomas in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

Murray wins debut

Nineteen-year-old Andy Murray won his first match in Washington, defeating Ramon Delgado 6-4, 6-3.

Murray, the eighth seed and 35th-ranked player in the world, was excited about advancing in his first appearance at the Legg Mason but was not pleased with his performance.

His coach, Brad Gilbert, told him after the match that he played at a “C” level.

“I could have done everything better,” Murray said. Murray has not played on hard courts since March and said he had some trouble adjusting to the faster pace of the ball.

He will face Feliciano Lopez next. Lopez beat Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-4.

Joseph Silverman The Washington Times

Lleyton Hewitt came back after trailing by a set and 5-3 in the second-set tiebreaker.

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