Hewitt puzzles past Spanish net-rusher in Tokyo


Tokyo : Lleyton Hewitt had to puzzle through the unorthodox game of a serve-and-volley Spaniard to emerge with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Ivan Navarro to reach the AIG Japan Open quarter-finals here Thursday.

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“It took me half a set to get used to him,” said the 2001 winner at the Ariake colosseum. “He’s certainly a different type of Spanish player.

“You don’t see Rafael Nadal or David Ferrer rushing the net. I got better as the match went on and that was good,” said the Australian, who next faces the huge serve of Ivo Karlovic.

The Croatian seventh seed destroyed Asia’s last hope of the week as he put out South Korean Lee Hyung-taik 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (10-8).

Hewitt, a former world number one, whose current ranking stands just inside the top 20, has reached only his seventh quarter-final of the season.

Ranked 113, Navarro has yet to win a set against a top 20 opponent in eight meetings.

Hewitt came good after erasing a 2-4 deficit in the first set on his way into the last eight. “I needed a different game plan against him than for the other Spaniards.”

Two Spanish seeds advanced as number eight Fernando Verdasco put out Swede Thomas Johansson 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-3 while 10th seed Feliciano Lopez upset number six and last week’s Bangkok champion Dmitry Tursunov 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.