| Rafael Nadal returns a shot to Lleyton Hewitt during their Round IV match at Roland Garros on Monday. (Reuters)
Paris: Lleyton Hewitt fought valiantly before going the way of Rafael Nadalís 56 previous claycourt opponents on Monday when he lost 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 2-6 to the French Openís defending champion in the fourth round.
The 20-year-old Spaniard had needed almost five hours to beat Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in four sets in the third round but he dispatched the Australian former world number one with much less trouble in three-and-a-quarter hours.
ďMaybe today I played my best match so far. I was feeling the ball the best I have in the tournament,Ē Nadal said.
In the last eight he will play 19-year-old Serbian Novak Djokovic who overcame an exhausted Gael Monfils of France 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.
They were joined in the last eight by Croatian fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic and Frenchman Julien Benneteau while in the womenís singles Martina Hingis progressed to a quarter-final against Kim Clijsters.
Hewitt had won all three of his previous meetings with Nadal on hardcourt but clay is the Mallorcanís domain and the Australian simply could not match his opponentís power.
Hingis ground her way through to a repeat of her Australian Open quarter-final against Clijsters, which the Belgian won, after a three-set tussle with stubborn Israeli opponent Shahar Peer.
The match was halted at one-set all on Sunday due to poor light and on the resumption Hingis had to fight hard to win the decider to complete a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win.
The Swiss, back at Roland Garros after a three-year break from tennis, dropped her first set of the tournament but was undeterred.
Ljubicic marched into the last eight for the first time at the claycourt Grand Slam when he saw off Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
It equalled his best Grand Slam showing and he will be confident of progressing further against unseeded Frenchman Benneteau in the last eight.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathiís campaign in the menís doubles ended with a three-set loss in the quarter finals on Monday.
Bhupathi, two-time champion here, and Belgian Xavier Malisse went down to Andrei Pavel of Romania and Germanyís Alexander Waske 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Roland Garros.
In the mixed doubles, Bhupathi and his star partner Hingis were forced to withdraw owing to the latterís indisposition.
In the juniorís section, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bowed out in the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to top seed Thierno de Bakker of the Netherlands.
Earlier, Sanaa Bhambri went out of the girlsí singles on Sunday. The Delhi girl lost to Anouk Tigu of the Netherlands 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 in the first round. (Agencies)
DAY VIII RESULTS
MEN’S SINGLES, Round III: Ivan Ljubicic (4, Cro) bt Juan Monaco (Arg) 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; Gael Monfils (25, Fra) bt James Blake (8, US) 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 6-4; Round IV: Mario Ancic (12, Cro) bt Tommy Robredo (7, Esp) 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5; Roger Federer (1, Sui) bt Tomas Berdych (20, Cze) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3; Nikolay Davydenko (6, Rus) bt Gaston Gaudio (10, Arg) 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; David Nalbandian (3, Arg) bt Martin Vassallo Arguello (Arg) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. WOMEN’S SINGLES, Round IV: Dinara Safina (14, Rus) bt Maria Sharapova (4, Rus) 7-5, 2-6, 7-5; Svetlana Kuznetsova (8, Rus) bt Frasca Schiavone (9, Ita) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4; Kim Clijsters (2, Bel) bt Daniela Hantuchova (15, Svk) 6-1, 6-4; Venus Williams (11, US) bt Patty Schnyder (7, Sui) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; Nicole Vaidisova (16, Cze) bt Amelie Mauresmo (1, Fra) 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2; Anna-Lena Groenefeld (13, Ger) bt Gisela Dulko (32, Arg) 6-3, 6-4; Justine Henin-Hardenne (5, Bel) bt Anastasia Myskina (10, Rus) 6-1, 6-4. MEN’S DOUBLES, Round III: Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) & Xavier Malisse (Bel) bt Yves Allegro & Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 6-3, 6-1.BOYS’ SINGLES, Round I: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (Ind) bt Jerome Inzerillo (Fra) 6-1, 6-4; Sanam Singh (7, Ind) bt Guillaume Rufin (Fra) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. GIRLS’ SINGLES, Round I: Anouk Tigu (Ned) bt Sanaa Bhambri (Ind) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.