Nadal and Hewitt edge closer to French Open showdown

1st June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 31, 2007 (AFP) - Never-say-die Lleyton Hewitt staged a dramatic French Open fightback on Thursday to edge closer to a Roland Garros showdown against defending champion Rafael Nadal.

PARIS, May 31, 2007 (AFP) - Never-say-die Lleyton Hewitt staged a dramatic French Open fightback on Thursday to edge closer to a Roland Garros showdown against defending champion Rafael Nadal.

Australian Hewitt pulled off his fourth career comeback from two sets down to defeat 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio in a marathon second round clash.

In complete contrast, Nadal brushed aside Italian world number 227 Flavio Cipolla 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.

"Gaston's one of the toughest second round draws you can get here," said 14th seed Hewitt after his 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory set up a third round clash with Jarkko Nieminen.

"At the end of the second set, I was just trying to focus on the third. I wasn't even thinking about the fourth or fifth sets."

Nadal, the double defending champion and who has a 16-0 career record at Roland Garros, will face compatriot Albert Montanes for a last 16 place.

Nadal and Hewitt are seeded to meet in the fourth round where they clashed in 2006 with the Spaniard winning in four sets.

In the women's singles, second seed Maria Sharapova, looking to win a first French Open, where she has never got beyond the quarter-finals, eased past American veteran Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-1.

Sharapova admitted that she still needs to work on her movement around the court if she is to get anywhere nearer a Roland Garros title.

"I feel terrible. I feel like a cow on ice, especially on clay," said the Russian who faces compatriot and qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva for a place in the last 16.

Sharapova was joined in the third round by 2002 champion Serena Williams, the eighth seed, who enjoyed a 6-0, 7-6 (7/3) win over Venezuela's Milagros Sequera.

Australian Open champion Williams will face Michaella Krajicek with the Dutchwoman having admitted that the American is her idol.

"That's really sweet but when I played her in Rome she played like she wasn't impressed," recalled Williams of her victory on the Italian clay two weeks ago. 

Also progressing to the third round were third seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 runner-up, who recovered from losing the first five games and saved three set points to beat America's Meghann Shaughnessy 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

Kuznetsova will face Slovakian qualifier Dominika Cibulkova in the third round.

Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, the French fifth seed, beat compatriot Nathalie Dechy 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1 and goes on to play Czech 25th seed Lucie Safarova.  

Serbian seventh seed Ana Ivanovic was also an easy winner, defeating India's Sania Mirza 6-1, 6-4 and now meets Romanian qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru.

Serbian sixth seed Novak Djokovic, tipped as an outsider for the men's title, needed four sets to get past French world number 306 Laurent Recouderc.

Former Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, the 16th seeded Cypriot, also made the third round with a straight sets triumph over Denmark's Kristian Pless.

Seventh seed Ivan Ljubicic, 12th seed David Ferrer and 23rd seed Carlos Moya, the 1998 champion, were also third round winners on Thursday.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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