Hewitt reaches final in Houston

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/l/lleytonhewitt.jpg' class='caption'> Lleyton Hewitt reached his first clay court final in a decade with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev at the US Men's Clay Court Championships.

Updated: April 12, 2009 16:31 IST
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Houston, Texas:

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt reached his first clay court final in a decade with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev on Saturday at the US Men's Clay Court Championships.

The Aussie veteran, trying to work his way back up the rankings after left hip surgery last year, will meet American Wayne Odesnik in the final.

Odesnik advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Bjorn Phau of Germany.

Hewitt won his 498th career match, moving him closer to joining Swiss star Roger Federer and Spain's Carlos Moya as the only active players with 500 wins.

A victory Sunday would give Hewitt his first title on clay since he won at Delray Beach in 1999.

Hewitt's last appearance in a final was in Las Vegas in 2007, where he won his 26th career title.

His 2008 season without a title saw Hewitt's streak of 10 years with at least one title end.

"Last year was frustrating for me. It was the first year I wasn't able to win a tournament. It would be nice to win tomorrow. Back when I was number one, I was winning five or six tournaments a year consistently," Hewitt said.

"It feels fantatsic and it has been a long time coming," he said. "I am really moving well and I'm moving a lot better than I thought in my first tournament on clay. I haven't dropped a set all week, and I hope to continue that tomorrow."

Neither player could break serve until the final game of the second set, when Russia's Korolev fell behind love-40 and lost on the first match point as he fired a backhand long.

"It was good serving by both of us actually," Hewitt said. "It was a pretty high-quality match, especially on claycourt to be able to hold serve like we did. I had a couple of chances in the first set and he played a couple of big points."

Hewitt didn't face a break point in the match and seized control in the first-set tiebreaker courtesy of four straight errors from Korolev, then pocketed the set with a forehand winner.

"It was a tough match for me. I don't think I recovered too well from yesterday," said Korolev, who needed three sets to beat Argentina's Guillermo Canas on Friday. "Lleyton was very solid with his service game. The last game, I missed one or two shots and couldn't come back. I was really serving well today, too, until the last game."

Odesnik is trying to become the first American to win a clay court event since 2006 when Mardy Fish won this title.

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