• Hewitt opens in Memphis, Malisse battles Young

    2/20/13 5:09 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Hewitt opens in Memphis, Malisse battles Young Lleyton Hewitt will contest his Memphis opener on Wednesday against Yen-Hsun Lu. Xavier Malisse and Donald Young are also looking for a spot in the second round.

    Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Lleyton Hewitt

    Lu and Hewitt will be squaring off for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in round one of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships on Wednesday afternoon. The head-to-head series is tied up at two wins apiece and all four previous encounters have come on hard courts. Interestingly enough, they also faced each other in the Memphis first round two years ago--Hewitt prevailed 6-4, 7-6(3). Lu, however, avenged that loss one month later with a 6-2, 6-3 victory in Indian Wells.

    Hewitt is slowing down at 31 years old, as the defensive skills which he has relied upon for so long are no longer up to their standard of the past. The veteran Aussie, down at No. 107 in the world in part due to injury, is 3-3 for the season after losing to Sam Querrey in a third-set tiebreaker during second-round action in San Jose. Lu, ranked 72nd, has not played since the Australian Open. Chinese Taipei's top player could be rusty, so Hewitt in three sets is the pick.

    (Q) Donald Young vs. Xavier Malisse

    Young and Malisse will be doing battle for the first time at the main-draw level on Wednesday in Memphis. They have met once in qualifying rounds, with Malisse dominating 6-1, 6-2 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open. At 32 years old, the Belgian is still playing decent tennis and he registers at 48th in the world. Malisse is a solid 5-3 for his 2013 campaign, which includes quarterfinal appearances in Auckland and San Jose.

    At the other end of the career spectrum, Young is toiling all the way down at No. 200 in the world. The 23-year-old American went as high as 38th in the rankings early last season, but he has been in dreadful form of late. Young at least did well to qualify in both San Jose (lost to Michael Russell in round one) and Memphis (beat Russell 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker on Sunday). An upset is not out of the question, but Malisse should advance in straight sets.

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