Hewitt digs hole, climbs out to beat Gaudio at French Open

Updated: May 31, 2007, 3:22 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Lleyton Hewitt rallied from two sets down for the fourth time in his career Thursday and beat 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the French Open.

Lleyton Hewitt
AP Photo/Francois MoriHewitt had to climb out of a two sets to none hole to advance to the third round.

Also Thursday, two-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal also advanced to the third round, sweeping aside Italian qualifier Flavio Cipolla 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, missed two months because of a back injury and returned at the Rome Masters in early May. He broke his Argentine opponent in the third and seventh games of the third set, and then again to open each of the two remaining sets.

"He's got to be one of the toughest second-round players to play," said Hewitt, who lost to Gaudio in the 2004 French Open quarterfinals. "The first two sets he played fantastic."

The 14th-seeded Australian made 25 unforced errors in the first two sets, but limited that to 19 in the final three. He also had 20 aces, while Gaudio double-faulted 13 times.

"I felt like I had a lot of opportunities to go up a break in the first set," Hewitt said.

Hewitt stayed on course for a fourth-round rematch with two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. He lost to Nadal at the same stage last year.

Hewitt has won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and reached the final at the Australian Open. He has made the quarterfinals twice at the French Open, the last time losing to eventual champion Gaudio in 2004.

Gaudio, who had reached the third round in Paris for five straight years, has only once won consecutive matches this year.

Nadal, attempting to become the first man to win three successive titles at Roland Garros since Bjorn Borg in 1980, took control right away, opening up a 3-0 lead in the first set and winning the set in 34 minutes.

Nadal broke Cipolla seven times while losing his own serve twice -- once in the third set.

"At the beginning he was a bit nervous. He would make mistakes," Nadal said. "Third set was a bit more disputed."

No. 6 Novak Djokovic also reached the third round, beating Laurent Recouderc of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. No. 16 Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic and No. 20 Jarkko Nieminen also won.

"Everybody now expects me to be the guy who can hurt the best two players in the world," said Djokovic, who has won three titles this year -- including one on clay.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.