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Hewitt to meet Blake in Las Vegas final

Written by: Staff

LAS VEGAS, Mar 5 (Reuters) Top seed Lleyton Hewitt saw off Paul Goldstein 3-6 6-1 6-0 in the last four of the Tennis Channel Open, setting up a final clash with American James Blake.

World number 10 Hewitt struggled to get to grips with American Goldstein's constant change of pace in the first set and was broken four times.

''I couldn't put in first serves and was double faulting,'' said Hewitt yesterday after the match. ''He puts a lot pressure on anyone's service games. He has a good compact return.'' Hewitt dug in in the second set, playing further inside the baseline and ripping his return of serves. Goldstein grew extremely erratic, while Hewitt consistently hit the lines.

''He wasn't making a lot of easy mistakes so I tried to put more pressure on him and I was able to do that,'' said Hewitt.

''Halfway through the second set, I felt I was dictating and was the better player out there.'' The 25-year-old Australian also reached the San Jose final two weeks ago, where he lost to Britain's Andy Murray.

Playing in cool evening conditions, fifth seed Blake was able to overcame big-serving Ivo Karlovic 7-6 6-1 with crisp returns and brilliant passing shots.

''I'm really happy with the way I played,'' said Blake, who committed only seven unforced errors. ''I'm going for my shots and it's working.'' Blake, who has won three titles in seven months, has lost all six previous meetings with Hewitt.

''It's a tough proposition playing against him,'' he said.

''I think I have a very good chance. He's one of the best players in the world, but I don't think it's arrogant to say that I've been playing at the same level with the best players recently. There's no reason to think that I can't win.'' Reuters PDS VP1204

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