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Hewitt hammers Safin at Las Vegas Open

Latest update : 2008-03-04

Aussie Lleyton Hewitt got his title defence off to a flying start, taking only 58 minutes to roll over Russian Marat Safin 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the ATP Las Vegas tournament.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Aussie Lleyton Hewitt got his title defence off to a flying start by rolling over Russian Marat Safin 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the ATP Las Vegas tournament Monday.

Hewitt needed just 58 minutes to oust Safin, breaking him in the fourth game of both sets.

The two former world number ones had split their previous 12 meetings.

They faced each other in the semi-finals here last year, with the 26-year-old Hewitt posting a 7-5, 6-1 victory.

Taking advantage of Safin's poor serving, Hewitt converted four-of-six break points.

The Russian had three aces and three double-faults and won just 40 percent (eight-of-20) of his first-serve points.

In last year's final, Hewitt survived a marathon second-set tiebreaker to outlast Jurgen Melzer, 6-4, 7-6 (12-10), to claim his 26th career title.

However, Hewitt's best result this year was a quarter-final showing at the season-opening event in his hometown of Adelaide.

Safin, who has fallen to 87th in the world rankings, was playing in only his fourth match this year.

He reached the second round at the Australian Open and lost in the first round last week at Memphis.

The top seed in this hardcourt event is Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, who captured his 10th career title last month at Vina Del Mar and reached the Australian Open final a year ago.

Two other seeds won their first-round matches Monday. Number four Guillermo Canas of Argentina ousted Sweden's Thomas Johansson, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), and No. 8 Nicholas Kiefer of Germany defeated countryman Benjamin Becker, 6-4, 6-3.

Completing the list of top seeds are No. 3 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, No. 5 Potito Starace of Italy, No. 6 Michael Llodra of France and No. 7 Robin Soderling of Sweden.

Two unseeded Americans won their opening matches Monday. Sam Querrey survived a tense third-set tiebreaker to outlast Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8).

Robby Ginepri also needed three sets to dispatch Belgium's Xavier Malisse, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Date created : 2008-03-04