Hewitt scrapes past challenge of Schxttler

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The Independent Online

Sixth-seeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt defeated Rainer Schuettler of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-3 Friday to reach the semifinals of the ABN Amro tournament.

In another quarterfinal match, defending champion Max Mirnyi of Belarus beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Hewitt will now face either top seed Roger Federer of Switzerland or Britain's Tim Henman, while Mirnyi will play either Juan Carlos Ferrero or Rotterdam native Raemon Sluiter in the other semifinal.

Federer is unbeaten in 16 matches, a personal best for the 22-year-old world No. 1

"Roger (Federer) is obviously on a high right now. He's a great player and he's showing how good he is," Hewitt said, adding that his own game was "going in the right direction."

"My forehand is going well at the moment, and I'm returning pretty well. My serve's been up and down, but I've won on the big points."

Hewitt and Schuettler were well-matched from the baseline, and each had two service breaks in the first set.

In the tiebreaker, Hewitt went up 4-0 before Schuettler fought his way back to 6-5, despite double-faulting twice. Hewitt finished it off with a crisp return of serve.

In the second set, Hewitt broke Schuettler in the fourth game to go up 3-1. In the following game, Schuettler injured a fingernail on his serving right hand.

He continued the match, but never again seriously challenged during Hewitt's service.

Big-serving Mirnyi continued his run at Rotterdam, winning 75 per cent of points on his first serve. Nieminen had two break points in the eighth game of the second set, but failed to capitalize.

"I play my best game in Rotterdam," Mirnyi said, adding that he hopes to face Raemon Sluiter in the semifinal, after beating him in the final last year.