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Difficult draw for Lleyton Hewitt

Paris: World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt faces a tough challenge at the French Open where some of the worldís leading claycourters are lurking on his route to the semi-finals.

The Aussie has never made it past the quarter finals in Paris, and he will limber up in this yearís first round against American Brian Vahaly before embarking on what looks almost like a mission impossible. In the second round, he could meet either Russian Nikolay Davydenko, winner in Estoril this season, or unpredictable Briton Greg Rusedski who is on the comeback trail.

The Wimbledon champion could then clash with three-time winner Gustavo Kuerten as early as the fourth round and face defending champion Albert Costa of Spain in the last eight.

In-form Argentines Gaston Gaudio and David Nalbandian are also in Hewittís quarter of the menís draw.

The clash between Brazilís Kuerten and veteran Swiss Marc Rosset will be one of the highlights of the first round.

Second seed Andre Agassi has an easier first week ahead of him even if his quarter of the draw looks a little like a senior tour billing. It contains 1996 winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, former world number one Marcelo Rios of Chile and veteran Spaniard Alex Corretja.

Agassi, who won the tournament in 2000, meets Slovak Karel Beck in the first round. Itís been 20 years since an out-and-out attacking player won the menís singles title and that sequence looks unlikely to be ended this year.

Dashing Yannick Noah was the last man to batter the baseliners defeating Mats Wilander in straight sets in 1983 and providing the only home win since 1946.

In the two decades since that heart-warming day on a sun-splashed Central Court, many attacking Greats have tried and failed here.

John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pat Rafter and more recently Pete Sampras all came to grief on the dusty, red stuff and Sampras has just announced that he has all but given up hope of ever finding his feet in France.

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