Hewitt does it easily - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hewitt does it easily

By Adam Cooper 18/01/2003 09:54:22 PM Comments (0)

For 10 minutes Lleyton Hewitt had a fight on his hands.

But from 0-2 down the world No.1 turned a potential tussle into a mismatch as he thrashed Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-2 6-0 in their third round Australian Open match on Saturday night.

Hewitt seized on an opponent who continually tried to outpoint him with dropshots, using his brilliant pace to win in 90 minutes.

The speed of his win made for an early night for spectators, one of whom encouraged Stepanek to dig deep "cos I don't want to go home yet".

But to make up for the early night Hewitt hit his straps in the final set as he peeled off a series of winners.

Any chance of a late bedtime was gone when Hewitt broke Stepanek's serve for the seventh time - from just nine break points - and served it out.

Hewitt's fourth round opponent is Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui, who came from a set down to beat Spain's Feliciano Lopez 5-7 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (10-8) on Saturday.

The 18th seed is coming off a career-best year and has beaten Hewitt once, and twice lost in four sets - all on hardcourts.

"It's going to be tough but I have my tactics and I don't want him to wake up tomorrow morning and see what the tactic will be in the newspaper," El Aynaoui said.

Form suggests Hewitt will play Andre Agassi for this year's title, but it was the next generation of Americans that impressed on Saturday.

Precocious talent Andy Roddick effortlessly beat Spain's Fernando Vicente 6-2 6-3 6-2, while James Blake also beat a Spaniard, Alberto Martin 6-3 4-6 6-2 6-2, to reach his first grand slam fourth round.

American tennis has long demanded successors to Agassi and Pete Sampras.

With Roddick and Blake the only other American men ranked in the top 30, there at last appears some light at the end of the tunnel.

Roddick now plays Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who beat seventh seeded Czech Jiri Novak 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2, while Blake has benefitted from the withdrawal of number three seed Marat Safin.

Safin pulled out of his match against German Rainer Schuettler today because of wrist tendonitis - a week after he withdrew in Sydney because of shoulder troubles.

Safin's withdrawal also opens up the draw for Swiss sixth seed Roger Federer, who beat Swedish qualifier Andreas Vinciguerra 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Federer, yet to drop a set, plays Argentinian David Nalbandian, who led Xavier Malisse 4-6 6-2 6-0 3-0 when the Belgian retired with an arm injury.

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