| Max Mirnyi waits as Mahesh Bhupathi serves during their second-round match at Roland Garros Saturday. (AFP)
Paris, May 31 (Agencies): Lleyton Hewitt’s French Open dreams evaporated when he surrendered a two-set lead to go down 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the third round today.
Three-times champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil was leading Argentine Gaston Claudio 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, 3-3 when play was suspended due to bad light.
Hewitt, the world No. 1, failed to take his chances in the final set, too, as he let slip a 2-0 advantage. The temperamental Aussie, who struggled in the first two rounds, then sealed his own fate in the seventh game when he gifted the 28th-seeded Spaniard the decisive break with a double-fault.
Pumping his fist, Robredo stepped up the pace to grind out the win after three hours and 24 minutes, breaking Hewitt for the third time in the set.
Defending champion Albert Costa staged a brave fightback to see off Ecuadorean Nicolas Lapentti 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. In the last-16 stage, the ninth-seeded Spaniard will meet local favourite Arnaud Clement who shut out young compatriot Nicolas Coutelot 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Hot favourite Juan Carlos Ferrero, the third seed, dropped the first set against Tim Henman before winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Chilean Fernando Gonzalez also advanced to the pre-quarters when 12th seed Sjeng Schalken retired with an injury. Gonzalez was leading 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-1 at that stage.
Top women cruise
Spending as little time as possible under a fierce Parisian sun, the leading lights of women’s tennis slipped into the last 16.
Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams all swatted aside opponents in double quick time on Day Six of the claycourt Grand Slam.
Capriati, champion here in 2001, was the first of the trio into the pre-quarters with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-2 win over Julia Vakulenko in less than an hour.
“It was easy most of the way,” said seventh-seeded Capriati.
She next meets Russian Nadia Petrova who ousted Marissa Irvin of the US 6-1, 6-1 on an outside court.
Capriati’s victim in that 2001 final here, Kim Clijsters, romped through on centre court. The Belgian, seeded second, powered into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Argentine claycourter Paola Suarez. Clijsters’ superior baseline play proved decisive as she ran away with the match in 64 minutes.
Venus Williams also maintained a high level throughout, needing just 52 minutes to advance with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Silvia Farina-Elia.
The American third seed — a runner-up here last year to younger sister Serena — closed out the match with her sixth ace. She next meets Russia’s Vera Zvonareva who beat Maria Sanchez Lorenzo of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
The trio was joined by sixth seed Lindsay Davenport who struggled with a painful foot injury before overcoming Nathalie Dechy 6-3, 7-5. She now plays Conchita Martinez who beat Tina Pisnik 6-3, 6-3.
Good day for Indians
It was a good day in office for the Indian doubles specialists. Mahesh Bhupathi won both his matches to move into the last 16 of men’s and mixed doubles, while Leander Paes triumphed with David Rikl.
Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi, seeded No. 2, shut out Frenchmen Thierry Ascione and Julien Varlet 6-3, 6-4 in the second round to move within a match of clashing with Paes-Rikl. The fifth-seeded Indo-Czech pair recovered to overcome Rick Leach-Brian MacPhie 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the second round.
A couple of hours after his men’s doubles match, Bhupathi was back on court with Elena Likhovtseva. The third seeds made short work of Iranian Mansour Bahrami and French Tatiana Golovin 6-4, 6-2 in Round I of mixed doubles.
MEN’S SINGLES THIRD ROUND
Carlos Moya (4, Esp) bt Juan Ignacio Chela (31, Arg) 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3; Jiri Novak (13, Cze) bt Ivan Ljubicic (Cro) 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2; Flavio Saretta (Bra) bt Galo Blanco (Esp) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 2-2 retd.; Andre Agassi (2, US) bt Xavier Malisse (26, Bel) 6-4, 7-5, 7-5; Martin Verkerk (Ned) bt Vincent Spadea (29, US) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5; Guillermo Coria (7, Arg) bt Attila Savolt (Hun) 6-4, 6-1, 6-1; Rainer Schuettler (11, Ger) bt Wayne Ferreira (22, RSA) 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 2-3 retd; Mariano Zabaleta (Arg) bt Younes El aynaoui (23, Mor) 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2).
WOMEN’S SINGLES THIRD ROUND
Magui Serna (Esp) bt Ashley Harkleroad (US) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; Chanda Rubin (8, US) bt Laura Granville (31, US) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3; Petra Mandula (Hun) bt Flavia Pennetta (Ita) 6-2, 6-4; Amelie Mauresmo (5, Fra) bt Fabiola Zuluaga (Col) 6-3, 6-4; Patty Schnyder (19, Sui) bt Eleni Daniilidou (14, Gre) 6-3, 6-4; Justine Henin-Hardenne (4, Bel) bt Dally Randriantefy (Mad) 6-1, 6-1; Serena Williams (1, US) bt Barbara Schett (Aut) 6-0, 6-0; Ai Sugiyama (16, Jap) bt Meghann Shaughnessy (18, US) 6-1, 6-4.