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Since 1st March, 1999
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Pierce, Hewitt survive
- Mahesh-Max in second round; Srichaphan advances

New York: Lleyton Hewitt and Mary Pierce needed all their experience and determination to survive second round scares at the US Open on Thursday, both former-Grand Slam winners battling back to register wins.

Sixth seed Hewitt recovered from a sluggish start as he grunted and growled his way past South Koreaís Lee Hyung-taik 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Meanwhile, Indian hopes were pinned on defending champions Mahesh Bhupathi and his Belarussian partner Max Mirnyi, who moved into the second round of the menís doubles on Wednesday. The top-seeded pair defeated Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty and Andre Sa of Brazil 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Bhupathi will play the mixed doubles alongside Paola Suarez of Argentina. They are the top seeds and face Petra Mandula of Hungary and Graydon Oliver of the US in the first round.

ďFor me the first few rounds are toughest,Ē said Hewitt, the 2001 champion. ďBut I know what you have to do to win Slams, Iím through to the third round, I canít complain. Obviously Wimbledon was a hiccup and Iíll try to bounce back at the last major.Ē

Fighting back to fitness following two injury-plagued seasons, a beefy Pierce showed glimpses of the power game that helped her to win Grand Slam titles at the Australian and French Opens. The Frenchwoman clawed out a 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 win over 22nd seed Jelena Dokic in a draining two-hour performance on a sun-baked Centre Court.

Menís 11th seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand had a much easier passage, brushing past Slovakiaís Dominik Hrbaty 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 while 33rd seed Juan Ignacio Chela tamed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

Having dealt with abdominal, back and ankle injuries over the last two years, the 28 year-old Frenchwoman appeared to relish her time back in the spotlight. Pierce cracked a sly smile when she broke Dokic with a cheeky drop volley to jump into a 5-2 lead on her way to taking the opening set.

But at 5-4 and serving for the match, Pierce could not close out the second set. She squandered a match point and allowed Dokic to level the contest after the Yugoslav won the tiebreak 7-5.

With Dokic storming to a 5-2 lead in the third and serving for the match, Pierce appeared to be on her way out. But the 64th ranked Pierce dug deep into her reserves, breaking the Yugoslav twice and forced the match to a decisive tiebreak.

This time Pierce grabbed her opportunity, taking the tiebreak 7-5 when Dokicís return sailed wide and long.

Earlier, on Wednesday, third seed Lindsay Davenport expanded on the theme of the day by following title contenders Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters into the next round with the minimum of fuss. The American, champion here in 1998, beat Italian Maria Elena Camerin 6-2, 6-4 in the first match of the evening session at Flushing Meadow.

Wimbledon menís champion Federer opened his US Open campaign with a first-round win, Argentine Jose Acasuso retiring because of cramps with the Swiss player leading 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 2-0.

Womenís world No. 1 Clijsters thrashed American Laura Granville 6-1, 6-1 in 49 minutes.

In the other match of the evening session, American James Blake clinically disposed of 27th-seeded Argentine Mariano Zabaleta 76, 63, 62 to reach the second round.

Davenport, a former world No.1 and three-time Grand Slam winner, has had her last 18 months disrupted by knee surgery and a more recent foot injury. But despite still appearing a little hesitant on Arthur Ashe Court, the 27-year-old was happy enough with her progress.

ďI wasnít on top of the ball as much as I would have liked,Ē said Davenport, who has had a cortisone painkilling injection in her foot.

Federer, the second seed, swiftly recovered from a stuttering start to impose himself on Acasuso. The Swiss would have expected minimal resistance from the 75th-ranked Acasuso after the claycourter had won only one match since April and suffered first-round exits in six of seven previous events.

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