ATP China Open 2R: Lleyton Hewitt vs Fabio Fognini Preview

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The third day of the China Open sees Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt (Player Profile) and Fabio Fognini (Player Profile) of Italy clash in the second round. It is their first encounter on the professional tour and promises to be an entertaining affair. Hewitt v Fognini Head to Head – this will be their first meeting.

Hewitt has enjoyed a successful few months on the tour, reaching the second week of the US Open, defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the second round en route to his fourth round exit to Mikhail Youzhny. It was an extraordinary display from Hewitt, who had earlier crashed out of the Australian Open in the opening round for the 6th time in his career, yet regrouped for the second half of the hard court season to put together an outstanding string of victories. The former No. 1 followed up the US Open Series with an impressive showing in the Davis Cup where he lead his home country into the World Group main draw with a win over Poland. It was Australia’s first time to reach the World Group since 2007. He is also 3-1 against top 10 players this season.

Arriving in Beijing, the former No. 1 did not have an easy opening round against Tommy Haas. The two had not met in competition since 2004 and there were several shifts in momentum throughout the match yet Hewitt was able to overcome the 35-year-old German star in straight sets. Hewitt is now 14-9 in hard court matches this season.

Italian No. 1 Fabio Fognini is also experiencing a career-best season in 2013, having won his first ATP Tour title in Stuttgart and followed it up a week later with his second tour title with a win in Hamburg. This allowed him to break into the Top 20 for the first time in his career at No. 19, where he is currently ranked. While his clay season has been impressive, his performances on hard courts – both indoor and outdoor – have been questionable. The Italian suffered a second round loss to Ernests Gulbis at the ATP Masters 1000 in Montreal and followed that up with a first round loss in Cincinnati to Radek Stepanek. Less than a month later, he would retire in the second round of the St. Petersburg Open citing a foot injury. This left him with a 5-10 record on hard courts this season.

Arriving at the ATP tournament in Beijing, Fognini advanced to the second round of the tournament with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win over Tommy Robredo in a match that featured 11 breaks of serve. He is yet to make it past the second round of a hard court tournament this year and a motivated Hewitt will be an even greater challenge. While Hewitt may currently be 40 spots below Fognini in the rankings, one cannot underestimate the Aussie’s ability to defeat top 20 players when he is determined.

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