- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lleyton Hewitt climbed out of a courtesy car Tuesday afternoon, slung a case of rackets over his shoulder and walked across the Citi Open grounds, accompanied by his 6-year-old son, Cruz, who gave Dad a hand by toting a black gym bag.

More than seven hours later, the elder Hewitt - a former No. 1 and two-time major champion - smacked a volley winner to cap a 25-stroke exchange and finish off a 6-3, 6-4 victory over qualifier John-Patrick Smith in an all-Australian first-round matchup at the U.S. Open tuneup tournament.

Hewitt, wearing his trademark backward white baseball cap, pumped his fist. Cruz, wearing a backward black hat, rose from his front-row seat in the stands and applauded.

“This is special, having my son here this week,” Hewitt said. “He came to this tournament with me last year. He wanted to do it again. He asked if we’re going back to Washington. I said, ‘We’ll have to see if they give us a wild card.’”

The 34-year-old Hewitt has said he will retire after next year’s Australian Open. So he is on something of a farewell tour, receiving wild-card entries into tournaments because his ranking has slid to 163rd after a series of injuries and poor results.

Tuesday’s victory over Smith, who is ranked 133rd, was only the third win in singles this season for Hewitt in 10 matches. Hewitt, who built his success on a grind-it-out baseline style and terrific returning, won mainly on the strength of two key statistics: He converted 3 of 6 break points on Smith’s serve, while saving 9 of 10 that he faced.

“True competitor,” Smith said. “You can’t teach that. It’s something you’re born with.”

Hewitt’s 30 career titles include the U.S. Open in 2001, and Wimbledon in 2002. He won the Washington tournament in 2004, and his name appears in white, capital letters alongside those of other past champions on a blue overhang in the main stadium, where the occasional cry of “Come on, Lleyton!” rang out Tuesday.

“Going back to places like Wimbledon and playing in those places for the last time, you try and enjoy the memories,” said Hewitt, who faces seventh-seeded Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday.

He said Cruz hangs out in the locker room with other Australian players, who “are talking to him right before they go out to play, and he’s having a good ol’ time.”

Later Tuesday, 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori moved into the third round by coming back to eliminate James Duckworth 6-7 (8), 6-1, 6-4. This was Nishikori’s first match since he withdrew before his second-round match at Wimbledon more than a month ago, citing a lingering problem with his left calf.

The man who beat Nishikori for the title in New York last year, Marin Cilic, defeated 19-year-old Hyeon Chung 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the night’s last match. They didn’t even get on court until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday, thanks in part to earlier rain delays, and finished slightly before 2:30 a.m.

Three American men won - 13th-seeded Sam Querrey, 15th-seeded Jack Sock and Steve Johnson - and three lost - Donald Young, Denis Kudla and Tim Smyczek.

In women’s action, 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur recorded her 500th career victory, moving into the second round by beating Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2. Christina McHale knocked off No. 7 seed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, while top-seeded Ekaterina Makarova beat French Open quarterfinalist Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5, 7-5, and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was a 6-2, 6-4 winner against qualifier Sanaz Marand.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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