Federer, Kuerten set third-round meeting

Updated: May 27, 2004, 1:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Defending French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, who nearly withdrew because of bruised ribs before the tournament and played only after receiving painkiller injections, lost to Russian Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the second round Thursday.

The 24-year-old Ferrero looked a pale shadow of the player who won his first Grand Slam title on the same court 12 months ago.

Andreev, 20 and ranked 77th in the world, had never won a Grand Slam match before the tournament but he produced a fine display of attacking tennis to knock out the clearly unfit No. 4 seed, sealing victory with an ace.

Ferrero's defeat was only the fourth time the defending men's champion at Roland Garros has lost in the second round since the modern era began in 1968. The last was Andre Agassi in 1999. No defending champion has lost in the first round.

Ferrero joined 10 American men on the sidelines. The poor U.S. performance extended to Sebastien Grosjean, who's French but lives in Boca Raton, Fla. Grosjean, seeded 10th, was upset by Italian qualifier Potito Starace 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4.

Second-round winners on the men's side included top-ranked Roger Federer and three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten. They'll meet in the third round.

"I'll have to prepare really well," Federer said. "I'll have to try to be more aggressive than he is without overdoing things."

Federer, 34-3 this year, is seeking his first French Open title.

"I'm seeing probably the toughest guy I could play in the third round," Kuerten said. "It's going to be a great, great challenge."

Kuerten, seeded 28th, advanced by sweeping Gilles Elseneer 6-2, 6-0, 6-3. Federer was unhappy with his serve but still beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

No. 12-seeded Lleyton Hewitt eliminated Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. The Australian, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

"I don't think with my style of game I can totally be counted out," Hewitt said.

He'll next play No. 19 Martin Verkerk, the runner-up last year. Verkerk hit 17 aces and won when Victor Hanescu retired with cramps trailing 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 3-0.

No. 26 Albert Costa, the 2002 champion, defeated Christophe Rochus 6-1, 6-2, 7-5. No. 25 Ivan Ljubicic lost to Stefan Koubek 6-0, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

With a renewed love for tennis and the help of a psychologist he has been visiting, Costa said he's nearly back at his best.

"Today I felt really good on the court, hitting the ball so good," he said. "I made some mistakes in the third set, but I was really impressed the way I was playing with my forehand and serving sometimes.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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