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Tennis: Open winners Hewitt, Del Potro on collision course

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt likes his chances in a US Open second-round showdown with fellow former champion Juan Martin Del Potro because he can attack the Argentine powerhouse's game with quickness.

Hewitt, the 32-year-old former world number one from Adelaide who won the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon crowns, defeated US wildcard Brian Baker 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in his first-round match Wednesday.

Sixth seed Del Potro, ranked 60 places ahead of the Aussie, ousted Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-6 (9/7). The 2009 US Open winner lost the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history in his prior Grand slam match.

"Another step up. But that's why I'm here, to have a crack at the best guys," Hewitt said. "You have the opportunity to play the best guys out here at slams and at Slams this year he is one of them.

"It's going to be a big test and I'm looking forward to it."

Hewitt says he has seen that his style is able to cause some discomfort at times for Del Potro, whose massive frame works against matching Hewitt's smaller court-covering prowess.

"I feel I can hurt him in some areas some other guys can't," Hewitt said. "But the guy has such brute power out there. He can blow anyone off the court. And for his size he moves pretty well."

Del Potro, 24, called Hewitt "maybe the toughest opponent without seeding" in the field" and added, "He's going to be really difficult for me."

Hewitt and Del Potro have split four prior career meetings, the South American winning on hardcourts in Washington's third round in 2009 and a 2011 San Jose quarter-final.

Hewitt took their first meeting, in the second round at Wimbledon in 2009, and their most recent match, also on grass, at a Queen's quarter-final two months ago -- a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win in what he called "three exceptional sets."

"I'm going to have to play that level over five sets," Hewitt said.

"Nearly every time I've played against him I have gotten my opportunities. I've got to take care of my service games and take advantage of the few opportunities I get."

Del Potro was happy with his start, although he struggled to finish off his foe.

"I'm OK. I feel good with my level," Del Potro said. "My forehand was good. My serve improved since the last tournament. That's important."

Now Del Potro sees himself near the level of another Grand Slam title.

"I was close to doing it in Wimbledon," he said. "But you have really good guys playing much better than me at the moment. I'm trying to getting closer to them in these kind of tournaments, but it's not easy."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130829/tennis-open-winners-hewitt-del-potro-collision-course