MIAMI: Australia's Lleyton Hewitt rallied from a first-set deficit to down Israeli lucky loser Dudi Sela 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday in the ATP Masters and WTA hardcourt tournament here.
Hewitt, a former world number one who has fallen to 98 in the world as he battles to come back from left hip surgery, dropped his serve five times but capitalized on six of his own 11 break chances to notch the win in just under two hours.
Hewitt said the swirling winds made for a difficult match for both players.
"He's played matches in qualies, he was probably more acclimatized than I was," Hewitt said. "He mixes it up, and it's not easy out there in the wind. One minute you think it's coming straight down court, and then you get a couple of gusts from the side. It's tough to dictate play and tough to serve well."
Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, reached three straight semi-finals at this event from 2000-2002. He next faces seventh-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon.
World number one Rafael Nadal of Spain is the top seed, and arrives seeking his second Masters 1000 title in as many weeks after his triumph in Indian Wells on Sunday.
Nadal, who beat world number four Andy Murray in straight sets in the California final, has never won the Miami title, losing to Nikolay Davydenko in last year's final.
Davydenko isn't defending his title because of a foot injury.
Roger Federer, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, is the second seed in a field that also includes world number three Novak Djokovic and sixth-ranked American Andy Roddick.
Serena Williams, the world number one and two-time defending champion, is the top women's seed.
Williams, who like her sister Venus skipped Indian Wells, captured her 10th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, and has reached the semi-finals in her three other starts in 2009.
The 27-year-old is seeking her sixth title overall in Miami, having won her five of the past seven years.
Russian Dinara Safina is the second seed. She missed out on a chance to overtake Williams atop the rankings in Indian Wells, where as the top seed she failed to reach the final.
The field also includes Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, Russian Elena Dementieva and three-time champion Venus Williams.
Russia's Vera Zvonareva, who beat French Open champion Ivanovic to win the Indian Wells trophy on Sunday, is seeded sixth.
Among unseeded players jockeying for position on Wednesday, former world number five Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat American Melanie Oudin 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 17-year-old who reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells, saved three match points en route to 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over French qualifier Aravane Rezai.
France's Mathilde Johansson brought the curtain down on stadium court with a 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (10/8) victory over wild card Sania Mirza of India.
The match featured 19 service breaks and lasted two hours and 22 minutes.
Johansson booked a second-round match against Safina.