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Hewitt takes Indian Wells, closes in on 600 victories

INDIAN WELLS, California -- Lleyton Hewitt scratched out a 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow Australian Matthew Ebden on Thursday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open to move within one of joining the ATP Tour's 600-win club.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only active players to have reached the milestone. The 33-year-old Hewitt will face 17th-seeded Kevin Anderson in the second round.

“I've always been pretty successful,” said Hewitt, who won his 29th career title this year by beating Federer in the final at Brisbane, Australia.

Hewitt won the 29th title of his career by beating Federer in the final at Brisbane this year and said his most valuable asset in his 15-plus years on the tour is “that never-say-die attitude; hang in there and fight for every point.”

He did that against Ebden, shaking off the loss of a 5-1 lead in the first set to win the final five points of a tiebreaker, after Ebden slipped and fell pursuing a ball, and finally holding serve to close the match after being up 5-1 in the final set.

With all seeded players receiving a bye through to the second round, most interest centered on who would win through to meet the key players.

Czech veteran Radek Stepanek won through to a second-round clash with top seed Rafael Nadal by beating Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, while another Czech, Lukas Rosol, set up a meeting with Andy Murray by edging Serb qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-4.

Big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic progressed to a match against Stan Wawrinka by beating Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-4, 6-4, while France's Paul-Henri Mathieu earned a meeting with Roger Federer by defeating Robbie Ginepri 6-2, 6-3.

In women's draw, Jie Zheng set up a clash with Chinese compatriot and top seed Li Na by defeating Argentina's Paula Ormaechea 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), while Germany's Julia Goerges will meet Maria Sharapova in the second round after a 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Slovakia's Jana Cepelova.

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Stuard seizes PGA lead at Puerto Rico
Lleyton Hewitt, of Australia, hits a return to compatriot Matthew Ebden during the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on Thursday, March 6. (AFP)

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