- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

Reprint the posters and throw away the programs because the Legg Mason Tennis Classic must look to its lower seeds to carry the tournament after third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt made an early exit yesterday.

Hewitt fell to Arnaud Clement 7-6 (1), 6-4 in the quarterfinals, leaving the Legg Mason without its top six seeds.

“These days and these tournaments you can’t take anything for granted,” said Hewitt, who lost in the first round of the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles last week.

Hewitt, No. 12 in the world, was 7-0 versus Clement before yesterday’s meeting, but Hewitt’s serve let him down — especially on big points. Hewitt hit just 41 percent of his first serves in play and double-faulted three times.

After falling behind 4-1 in the first set, Hewitt battled back to take a 5-4 lead and the opportunity to serve for the match. But he won just one point in that game as Clement broke Hewitt’s serve and his confidence en route to taking the first set in a tiebreaker 7-1.

“I lost my momentum I think,” Hewitt said. “If I could have got that first set at 6-4 under my belt, you know I had a lot of momentum coming back from 4-1 in that first set. I sort of gave him a little bit of an extra wind out there to hang in. He played a good tiebreak, but I just had so many chances.”

Those chances proved especially detrimental in the first set as Hewitt converted just two of 14 break points.

Clement ran away with the second set, winning 73 percent of his service points and notching five aces to record his first career victory against Hewitt in seven years of meetings.

“It is very special because I think we have similar games, but he is always a little bit better than me,” said Clement, ranked No.57 in the world. “Today it was different. I played very good tennis, and I am very happy.”

With James Blake, Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, Dominik Hrbaty, Sebastien Grosjean and Hewitt out of the competition, the tournament is now an open playing field. Eleventh-seeded Clement will face Marat Safin in the semifinals today. Safin beat Wesley Moodie 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9) last night in a matchup of unseeded players.

This is the second time in 15 tournaments this year that Clement has advanced to the semifinals. He lost to Blake in the quarterfinals of the Legg Mason last year 3-6, 2-6.

“For the moment, I am just happy to be in the semis for a few hours,” Clement said. “Then I will concentrate on the next match soon.”

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