Federer and Hewitt set for US Open showdown

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer used to wonder how he was ever going to beat Lleyton Hewitt, but the situation will be reversed when the world's No.1 and one of his predecessors meet in the third round of the US Open.

Hewitt dominated their matches back when the Australian was in the midst of winning two Grand Slam titles and Federer was still chasing his first major championship.

Its hard to remember now that the Swiss has won 13 straight matchups.

The two set up another showdown by winning their second-round matches Wednesday. Federer beat Germany's Simon Greul 6-3, 7-5, 7-5, while Hewitt defeated Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

"On any given day, a former world No.?1, a guy who's won majors, is very, very dangerous," Federer said. "That's why I have to make sure I get into the match quickly, not give him the lead, because we know he's not going to go down without a fight."

Hewitt won at Flushing Meadows in 2001. Three years later, Federer beat him in the final — the first of five straight titles that he's seeking to turn into six.

"He started his run here in 2004 in the final, so it would be nice if I could finish it," Hewitt said with a smile.

The player who has given Federer fits more recently — Rafael Nadal — motored around the court like a guy with two healthy knees Wednesday. He defeated Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in his first Grand Slam action since May 31, when Nadal's 31-match French Open winning streak ended in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

Tendinitis in both knees sidelined Nadal for more than two months. He pulled out of Wimbledon instead of defending his title, saying he couldn't play without thinking about the injury, but not anymore.

"I don't have pain, so I don't think," Nadal said.

The defending women's champion, Serena Williams, needed just 53 minutes to dispatch 51st-ranked Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-1, 6-1.

Her third-round opponent is Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who pushed Williams to three sets in a dramatic match at the same stage of the French Open. Williams insisted the ball went off Martinez Sanchez's arm on a point that helped the Spaniard win the first set; she later accused Martinez Sanchez of cheating.

"She plays a fun game," Williams said Wednesday. "She's a tough cookie."

Venus Williams had heavy strapping on her left knee, which began bothering her when she struggled through a first-round win Monday. But like Nadal, Williams looked fine Wednesday, and she easily eliminated Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal never mentioned his knee issues publicly until after the French Open, but he said Wednesday the pain dated to April, when he won the Monte Carlo Masters. He also won the next week, and the week after that, but he now attributes that success to "being on a roll."

Kim Clijsters was away for two years, not two months, but she's rolling, too. After ending her retirement in August, she continues to play as if she never left. Unseeded, unranked and playing at the U.S. Open for the first time since winning the 2005 title, the 26-year-old Belgian reached the third round by knocking off No. 14-seeded Marion Bartoli 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Other seeded women sent home included Australia's Samantha Stosur, a French Open semifinalist, who was beaten by American Vania King 7-5, 6-4; two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo, who lost to Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada; Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska and Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Two fixtures on the men's tour said goodbye to Grand Slam tennis with first-round exits: Marat Safin of Russia and Fabrice Santoro of France, who are retiring at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open champion, lost to Jurgen Melzer of Austria 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4; the 36-year-old Santoro, appearing in his record 69th major tournament, was beaten by No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.