By Ron Cioffi/BB&T Atlanta Open
Lleyton Hewitt’s resurgent summer continued at the BB&T Atlanta Open with a straight-set dismissal of Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The Australian was in solid control over the Frenchman with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Playing in the opening match on Stadium Court, Hewitt used a well-worn and comfortable strategy: look for opportunities to put pressure on the server. He forced Roger-Vasselin to get in only 46 percent of his first serves. The statistic that tells the tale is the Frenchman’s success of winning only 37 percent of his second serve returns.
Break points also turned the tide for Hewitt. Although he won only two of six break chances, he kept Roger-Vasselin from seeing any. Hewitt converted his lone break point in the first set but needed five looks before he brought home the final break.
Roger-Vasselin’s first-round exit follows a strong start in 2013. He reached his first ATP World Tour final in Delray Beach and was also a semifinalist in Nice.
"I hadn’t hit on hard court after playing on grass," Hewitt said about the transition from turf to concrete. "Obviously, Newport took a bit out of me physically. … I always find coming from grass to hard court pretty challenging."
He also commented on his recent success. "I obviously played pretty well at Queen’s Club. I played (Stanislas) Wrarinka at Wimbledon and played a pretty flawless match but it wasn’t to be."
The Aussie who just reached the Newport final has seen a notable uptick in his career, even at the advanced age of 34. Mired in a down period where his ranking dipped out of the top 200 a year ago, Hewitt has now climbed back to 64 in the world.
"I sort of pick and choose my tournaments. The rankings are not something that I’m concerned about. That’s why I don’t play every week," he added in his post-match interview.
The father of three, Hewitt also appreciated the unique options of playing at Atlantic Station. He lauded the property and the things to for his family to do in the multi-use complex in the city’s Midtown section.
Next up for Hewitt is Rhyne Williams, the former University of Tennessee player. Williams moved into the second round by defeating Denis Kudla on Monday.