Lleyton Hewitt scratched out a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow Australian Matthew Ebden in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open to move within one of joining the ATP Tour’s 600-win club.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only active players to have reached the milestone and Hewitt will have the chance to join them when the 33-year-old takes on 17th-seed Kevin Anderson in the second round.
“I’ve always been pretty successful,” said Hewitt, who won his 29th career title this year by beating Federer in the final at Brisbane, Australia, where he said his most valuable asset in his 15-plus years on the tour is ‘that never-say-die attitude, hang in there and fight for every point’.
Czech veteran Radek Stepanek sealed a second-round clash with top-seed Rafael Nadal by beating Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, while another Czech, Lukas Rosol, set up a meeting with Andy Murray by edging Serb qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.
Big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic progressed to a match against Stan Wawrinka by beating Alex Bogomolov Jr 6-4, 6-4, while France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu earned a meeting with Roger Federer by defeating Robbie Ginepri 6-2, 6-3.
In women’s draw, Jie Zheng set up a clash with Chinese compatriot and top-seed Li Na by defeating Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), while Germany’s Julia Goerges will meet Maria Sharapova in the second round after a 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova.