<
>

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

5/31/2007 - Tennis

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.


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.