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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hewitt Beats Kafelnikov in Paris

ReutersMarat Safin returning to Nalbandian during the Russian's second-round victory in Paris.
PARIS -- Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt overcame several lapses of concentration to beat Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) Thursday and reach the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters.

The top-seeded Australian sealed victory with an ace on his first match point. He next faces Switzerland's Roger Federer, who advanced by beating Tommy Haas of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

Hewitt streaked through the first set and broke for a 2-1 lead in the second. Kafelnikov broke back but lost his next service game.

Serving at 4-3 up, Hewitt appeared to lose his concentration, and a series of errors allowed his opponent to move ahead 5-4.

But the Russian's edge was short-lived, and by the 12th game he was clapping in admiration as Hewitt retrieved an almost impossible shot and hit a winning forehand into the corner of Kafelnikov's half.

Hewitt won the next point by lobbing a backhand over his motionless rival and took the game four points later to level at 6-6.

In the tiebreaker, Kafelnikov double-faulted twice, and Hewitt set up match point with a superb forehand winner down the line.

The Australian now has a 6-1 win record against Kafelnikov, who has lost their last three matches, including a semifinal at last year's U.S. Open.

Kafelnikov, who was seeded 14th here, has said his priority this year is the Davis Cup. He will almost certainly represent Russia in next month's final against titleholder France in Paris, and has said he may retire if Russia wins.

Earlier in the day, Federer increased his chances of qualifying for next month's season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai, China, by defeating Haas in their third-round match.

On Wednesday, Marat Safin easily advanced to the third round, beating David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-2 and earning a spot in the Masters Cup.

Safin had little trouble against the 20-year-old Wimbledon finalist from Argentina.

The Russian, a former U.S. Open champion and winner here, kept up a steady supply of power groundstrokes and thundering serves, sealing victory after 1 hour and 2 minutes with an ace.

The win assured Safin a spot in the eight-man Masters Cup, which runs Nov. 12-19.