Hewitt proved too strong for Söderling, the man who knocked Rafael Nadal out of the French Open, ending the Spaniard’s four-year reign at Roland Garros on his way to the final where he lost to Roger Federer, just as he did in the Wimbledon fourth round.
“It was a tough match,” Hewitt said after saving two match points in a second-set tiebreaker to go on to win 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4.
“It was not easy to go through because he has been playing well these past months in Roland Garros and also Wimbledon. He’s the kind of guy who’s gonna hit a lot of winners out there. You sort of got to make him play that one extra shot a lot of times. You can see the confidence.”
Hewitt nearly exited in the tie-breaker but took advantage on key points to force a third set, then broke to open the third and swing the direction of the match within a few minutes.
“He’s such a big hitter out there. He wants to play on his terms and he wants to dictate play,” Hewitt said. “Sort of had to weather the storm out there today and wait for my opportunities.”
“Second-set tie-break could have gone either way. I played a good game the first game of the third set to break serve and served well for the rest of that set.”
Former world number one Hewitt had only 11 unforced errors to 50 for Söderling in reaching the second round of the $3 million hardcourt tournament, where he will face Germany’s Benjamin Becker for the first time.
“Against Becker, I will have to try to play my game and execute well if I want to go further,” Hewitt said. “He got through his first round quite comfortably so I won’t be taking him lightly.”
Italy’s Andreas Seppi booked a place in the second round opposite Spain’s Nadal with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback triumph over Czech Jan Hernych.
Spaniard David Ferrer ousted Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in a second-round match to put himself in the path of world number one Roger Federer. The Swiss star must defeat Argentina’s Jose Acasuso to book a date with Ferrer.
French ninth seed Gilles Simon outlasted Russian Igor Andreev 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, to reach the third round. His next foe with be a Russian, either eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko or Igor Kunitsyn, who beat James Blake 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4.
Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny defeated Romania’s Victor Hanescu 7-5, 6-2 to reach a second-round match against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who ousted 11th-seeded countryman Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4).
Austrian Jurgen Melzer outlasted Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7) to reach a second-round match with French lucky loser Julien Benneteau.