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Chances, strengths pay off for Hewitt

NEW YORK — NEW YORK - In 2001, Lleyton Hewitt was a brash 20-year-old, willing to take chances. The result was he won his first Grand Slam tournament at the U.S. Open and ended the year as the No. 1 men's player in the world.

Yesterday, he again took his share of chances - hauling off with a big backhand up the line while facing break point on his own serve - and moved into the third round with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Hyung-Taik Lee.

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"I still feel like I've got all the weapons and all the strengths that I had back then," said Hewitt, the No. 6 seed. "Right at the moment, I just feel like I'm not quite peaking. But I think one match can turn that all around."

It might be this one. Hewitt won despite letting three previous match points escape him

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Sisters hanging around

The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, may not be playing in the U.S. Open - injured as they are - but they're here, hanging around Manhattan.

Wednesday, they invited a select group of media members to their hotel to discuss their current and future plans.

"I'm not retiring before 33," Venus told New York Times writer Christopher Clarey. "I've thought about it already. I'm not giving up my great job. I like it. I'm fortunate. I'm blessed and I love being out there."

Serena echoed her sister's enthusiasm for a long career, but said she was going to enjoy her time away from the game. She said she has been practicing her crying, preparing for a scene in an episode of the Showtime series Street Time.

American tales

Mardy Fish, who was the third-highest-seeded American at No. 24, has been supported by a group of fans wearing fish heads this week. But yesterday, there was no help for the 21-year-old. Fish lost to Karol Kucera, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-4.

No. 1 seed Andre Agassi defeated Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-4.

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Todd Martin, upset No. 16 seed Martin Verkerk, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (9).

"It's just easy to keep my focus on that court [Arthur Ashe Stadium]," said Martin, who overcame two double faults to win the fourth-set tiebreaker.

Midriff display

The Grandstand court was rocking as No. 4 doubles seeds Martina Navratilova and her partner, Svetlana Kuznetsova, entered the court late yesterday afternoon. "Electric," the aging champion called it.

But no more electric than Navratilova showing off her midriff, just like any of the pro tour's teenage players.

"It was not a statement," Navratilova said, laughing, after she and her partner advanced to the second round, 7-5, 6-2. "But I have a flat belly. It's just the only shirt I had and it shrunk. Usually, my shirts are a little longer."


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