Hewitt wins close encounter in San Jose; Smyczek tops Verdasco
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Lleyton Hewitt, the former top-ranked player looking for his first singles title in nearly three years, reached the second round of the SAP Open with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Blaz Kavcic on Tuesday.
"There were a lot of momentum changes throughout the match," said Hewitt, the Australian who won his last hard-court title seven years ago. "He's a tough competitor out there. He's had a pretty good start to the year as well. It wasn't easy. In the end, I was happy to get through. I had to fight extremely hard."
Kavcic, a Slovenian, had won the first two meetings between the players.
Seeded players Denis Istomin and Marinko Matosevic also advanced.
In a late match, Tim Smyczek beat Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-3.
The sixth-seeded Istomin, from Uzbekistan, beat qualifier Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-4 in just over an hour, and the seventh-seeded Matosevic, from Australia, topped American Jack Sock, 7-6 (5), 6-1.
Hewitt, ranked 118th, won the event in 2002 and reached the 2006 final. He has 28 career titles and is 14-4 in San Jose.
"You always enjoy coming back to places where you've had good success," Hewitt said. "My main focus now is Davis Cup and Grand Slams at his stage of my career. But I want to prepare as well as possible for the big tournaments. I always give 100 percent, no matter which tournament I am at."
Istomin broke Sweeting's serve early in each set and won 86 percent of his first serves to maintain the advantage.
The 47th-ranked Istomin lost to Milos Raonic last year in the final of the event and is coming off consecutive quarterfinal finishes in Brisbane and Sydney. He's 10-3 lifetime in San Jose.
The 156th ranked Sweeting earned a spot in his first ATP tour main draw of the season.
In other matches, Canadian Vasek Pospisil knocked off Russian Evgeny Donskoy, 7-5, 6-1; and German Benjamin Becker downed American Ryan Harrison, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3.
In doubles action, Michael and Bob Bryan edged Americans Steve Johnson, a two-time NCAA singles champion while at Southern California, and Sock, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5).
The Bryans have 84 doubles titles and 13 Grand Slam titles. They have yet to win a title in nine previous visits to San Jose.
"This is our second home," Michael Bryan said. "We wear our Stanford outfits when we come here. This is the year we have to win here."