Hewitt beats Hernych to advance

Updated: March 13, 2009, 2:18 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Two-time champion Lleyton Hewitt beat Jan Hernych 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Also, Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Tathiana Garbin 6-4, 6-4, and Ivan Ljubicic topped Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 in the first night matches.

Hewitt, once the top-ranked ATP Tour player in the world, won this event in 2002 and 2003 and lost to Roger Federer in the 2005 final. This year, however, the 28-year-old Australian is ranked No. 77 and still trying to regain his physical fitness after having surgery on his left hip Aug. 16, 2008, in Melbourne.

"The ranking doesn't bother me at all," said Hewitt, who last year saw his streak of title-winning seasons end at 10 and finished out of the top 25 for the first time since his rookie season of 1998.

"There's been a lot of travel the last few months and it hasn't been easy on the body," he said. "I wasn't sure what to expect out there [against Hernych]. I knew when I decided to have it done that it was going to take quite some time to get as close as I'm going to get to 100 percent."

Hewitt advanced to a second-round meeting with 17th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, who beat him in the opening round of this year's Australian Open.

In other first-round men's matches, Igor Kunitsyn beat Amercian Vince Spadea in straight sets and Marc Gicquel ousted Simone Bolelli to set up a match with No. 2 seed Federer.

In women's first-round play, Sania Mirza rallied from a first-set loss to beat Mariya Koryttseva 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and 17-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Marta Domachowska 6-1, 6-3 to earn a second-round match against No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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