- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

HOUSTON (AP) - Lleyton Hewitt of Australia held on to win his first tournament in two years Sunday with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Wayne Odesnik of the United States in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships.

Hewitt won his 498th career match and moved closer to joining Roger Federer and Carlos Moya as the only active players with 500 or more victories. Hewitt also won his first clay court tournament since he took the Delray Beach tournament in 1999.

Hewitt ranks 35th on the career victories list.

He sailed to a 3-0 lead in the second set without much opposition from Odesnik, making his first ATP final. Odesnik had at least one service break in each of his 10 service games, and made his only rally by breaking Hewitt in the fourth game of the second set, then withstanding five break points to hold his serve in the fifth game.

Odesnik broke Hewitt two more times for a 5-3 lead in the second set. Then his serving problems returned and he was broken after three break points in the ninth game and again in the 11th game. Hewitt won on the first match point on Odesnik’s forehand error.

Hewitt didn’t need the extended match that took 2 hours, 3 minutes. Rain had already caused a 1 hour, 25-minute delay at the start. Hewitt hoped to still catch a flight to Monte Carlo, where he is scheduled for a first-round match on Tuesday.

Hewitt won a trip to his first clay court final in a decade with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev of Russia in Saturday’s semifinals. Odesnik reached the final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Bjorn Phau.

Hewitt failed to win a tournament in 2008 for the first time since he turned pro in 1998. He ended 2008 ranked No. 67 and currently is No. 88. He’s still undergoing rehab for hip surgery in August.

Odesnik was trying to become the first American to win a clay court event since 2006, when Mardy Fish won this event.

Since the clay court tournament came to Houston in 2001, Americans have won five of the eight titles. Andy Roddick won three and Andre Agassi and Fish each have one trophy.

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