LOS ANGELES (Ticker) Paul Goldstein wouldn't allow Lleyton Hewitt to have a g'day. Instead, the unheralded American sent the error-prone Australian g'bye.
Goldstein shocked the second-seeded Hewitt, 6-4, 6-4, Tuesday night in the first round of the $500,000 Countrywide Classic.
Ranked No. 86 in the world, Goldstein had dropped all four previous lifetime decisions against Hewitt, including two matches in 2006. However, he broke through with an attacking ground game and some surprisingly effective net play that kept the two-time Grand Slam winner off-balance during the 83-minute match.
"This is definitely one of the top four wins of my career," said the 29-year-old Goldstein, who turned pro in 1998. "True, I was 0-4 against Lleyton, but three of those four times were very close."
Goldstein was helped out by Hewitt, who was rusty following a three-week layoff after Wimbledon.
"I just struggled after a couple of weeks off," said Hewitt, a former world No. 1. "I hadn't hit a lot of balls, that's probably the biggest thing. I just couldn't take my chances when I got them. I didn't serve great and wasn't able to keep him under pressure."
Despite the loss, Hewitt knows what he has to do in order to regain his top form heading into the U.S. Open late next month.
"I just have to hit a lot of balls," he said. "I want to get into the rhythm I got from the French Open until Wimbledon and keep that going for the next five to six weeks. Hopefully in the matches, the positive things will take care of themselves."
In the final night match, Robby Ginepri bounced Justin Gimelstob, 6-4, 6-4, in an All-American matchup.
Earlier in the day, Tommy Haas took a positive first step toward what he hopes will be a march to a second title here in three years.
|Ginepri defeated Gimelstob 6-4, 6-4 in a first round match.|
The sixth-seeded Haas defeated Australian qualifier Wayne Arthurs, 6-4, 6-4, at the scorching hardcourt event, where temperatures registered at 115 degrees.
"I was really playing solid, not making too many loose mistakes," said Haas, who dispatched his foe in 73 minutes. "The heat was not as bad as yesterday. I was watching a couple of games when Andre (Agassi) was playing and sitting in the stands, I was sweating unbelievably."
Haas beat fellow German Nicolas Kiefer in the final here in 2004. Last year, he was recovering from a sprained right ankle and was beaten in the second round.
Haas got off to a quick start this season, however, winning hardcourt titles at Delray Beach and Memphis in February. He has not claimed another crown since, although he did reach two other semifinals.
"Sometimes it is tough to regain your top form, but every day is not the same," he said.
Haas maintained that he is healthy again, but admitted he is not back to the form he showed earlier in the year.
"I try to compete and play hard," said Haas, who next will face Paul Capdeville of Chile. "If I can get by tournaments here, I think I can get back to maybe playing some good tennis again."
The only other seed in action Tuesday afternoon match was No. 7 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, who bounced American qualifier Zack Fleishman, 7-5, 7-5. Hrbaty next will face German Lars Burgsmuller, who eliminated American lucky loser Michael Yani, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Swiss qualifier George Bastl defeated Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), to set up a second-round meeting with four-time champion and fifth-seeded Agassi, who is playing here for the 11th and final time.
In other action, two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin of Russia utilized key service breaks in the last game of each set to slip past American Mardy Fish, 6-4, 7-5.
Andy Roddick accepted a wild card Friday and is the top seed at this U.S. Open warmup event. Roddick, who begins with South African Rik De Voest on Wednesday, has not won a title this year.
However, Roddick reached the final at Indianapolis on Sunday, losing to James Blake in a third-set tiebreaker. The following day, he announced the legendary Jimmy Connors will serve as his new coach.