Hewitt, Murray ignoring niggles as Indian Wells play begins

Hewitt, Murray ignoring niggles as Indian Wells play beginsIndian Wells, California  - Lleyton Hewitt shrugged off hip worries while Andy Murray plans to fight through the after-effects of a virus as play on the ATP side of the Indian Wells Masters got underway on Thursday.

Hewitt, a two-time (2002, 2003) former champion at the desert venue and the 2005 finalist against Roger Federer, ignored the hip niggle which bothered him at weekend Davis Cup in Bangkok as he defeated Czech Jan Hernych 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to reach the second round.

The Australian, ranked 77th, underwent surgery last summer and only resumed full-time on the ATP at the start of the season.

Hewitt swept the final four points of the first-set tiebreaker to get a grip on the match, then broke in the fifth game and ninth games of the second to claim victory.

Murray, seeded fourth, is trying to regain full capacity after his bout with illness which began at the Australian Open. He will open at the weekend against Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, himself coming back after injury.

The South American beat Hewitt in five sets in January at the Australian Open and holds victories in four of six matches in the series.

His last event a month ago led to a repeat title at him in Vina del Mar on clay.

Murray, with two titles this season, withdrew three weeks ago prior to a Dubai quarter-final and had to skip Britain's Davis Cup loss at the weekend to the Ukraine in Scotland.

"I'm not 100 percent but I'm going to give my best," said the Scot. "Sometimes you can play through these things. I have enough experience to go to the court knowing what I need to be doing out there."

French players took two wins with Michael Llodra knocking out Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-4, 6-3 and Marc Gicquel stopping Italian Simone Bolelli 7-5, 6-3 to line up against Federer in the second round.

Finn Jarkko Nieminen ended a five-match loss streak on the ATP dating to his Sydney semi-final-win over Novak Djokovic on January 16 as he beat Nicolas Devilder of France 7-6 (8-5), 6-1 to next face James Blake.

"It was two totally different sets," said Niemimen. "I lost confidence after my losses. But confidence can go away fast and come back pretty fast."

On the women's side, India's Sania Mirza opened with a victory into the second round over Mariya Koryttseva of the Ukraine 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 wile Australian Samantha Stosur beat Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-4.

Off court, second seed and three-time winner Federer revealed that he will become a father within months, saying long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with the couple's first child.

"I have some really awesome news to share with all of you: Mirka and I are excited to let you know that we will be parents this summer!," the Swiss told his website.

"Mirka is pregnant and we are so happy to be starting a family together."

The world number two called the big event "a dream come true for us." (dpa)