A small, scrappy, resolute retriever, Lleyton Hewitt fits the profile of a French Open champion. \nExcept that he's Australian. The last player from Down Under to win the men's championship at Roland Garros was Rod Laver in 1969. \nHewitt thinks he can do it. \n"The more I play on this surface, the more confident I get," the Australian said after beating Xavier Malisse of Belgium 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (6) in the fourth round Monday. "I believe in myself. I believe in my ability that I can match it with the best guys on this surface." \nHewitt will play for a berth in the semifinals when he faces Gaston Gaudio of Argentina on Wednesday. That would be the best effort yet at Roland Garros by Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion who has never won a European clay-court title. \nLaver's run to the French Open title came the year he swept all four major events. Since then, the only Australians to reach the men's semifinals at Roland Garros have been Phil Dent in 1977 and Patrick Rafter in 1997. \nHewitt made the quarterfinals in 2001, the year he rose to No. 1, and he's ranked just 12th now. Still ... \n"I'm a lot better player on clay overall now, and more experienced, obviously, on this surface," he said. "Even when I was No. 1 in the world, I wasn't one of the big favorites, I don't think, to win this title." \nHewitt reached the quarterfinals by beating four Europeans, including No. 19-seeded Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands, the 2003 runner-up. Now he faces the unseeded Gaudio, one of four Argentines among the final eight. \nThe other quarterfinal Wednesday will match three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil against David Nalbandian of Argentina. Kuerten, seeded 28th, beat Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, and No. 8 Nalbandian ended No. 20 Marat Safin's wild run at Roland Garros, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3. \nSafin played with tape on both hands to cover blisters that developed during a five-set victory in the third round Saturday. He required treatment from a trainer at least seven times. \n"The hands I don't care about actually anymore, because I'm just a little bit frustrated," the former US Open champion said. "It was another big opportunity for me to fight for a title. To waste the opportunity this way is a pity." \nMalisse wasted repeated chances to extend his match against Hewitt. The Belgian held five set points in the third set and failed to close out the tiebreaker after leading 6-3. \n"I was just happy to get out of that third set and get off the court," Hewitt said. "You never know with this tournament. So many times you can have so many tough matches in the early stages, and you can wear yourself out." \nHewitt has played 16 sets in his four victories. Gaudio has played 17, including a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win Monday over Igor Andreev. \nThe Argentine and Hewitt are 2-2 in previous meetings and they've gone 1-1 this spring, with both matches on clay. In April, Hewitt came back from a set and 0-3 down to overcome Gaudio 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 and saved two match points. \n"He's very confident on this surface," Hewitt said. "I'm still a long way away from winning the title." \nDavid Nalbandian thinks its "quite unusual." Gaston Gaudio says he's one step closer to a boyhood dream. \nArgentina has four players in a Grand Slam tournament's quarterfinals for the first time -- and perhaps that's not so shocking at the French Open, given their comfort on clay courts. \nBut tell that to them. \n"It's really surprising for everyone," said the eighth-seeded Nalbandian, who overpowered No. 20 Marat Safin of Russia 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in the fourth round Monday. "It's incredible." \nGaudio beat another Russian, Igor Andreev, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. \n"It's great, I never thought this could happen. To be four Argentines in the final!" said Gaudio, only once even as far as the fourth round at 20 previous majors. \nThey join compatriots Guillermo Coria and Juan Ignacio Chela in the final eight. Today, No. 3 Coria plays No. 5 Carlos Moya of Spain, and No. 22 Chela faces No. 9 Tim Henman of Britain. \nThe promising pack of Argentines is still chasing the glory of their role model Guillermo Vilas, the last Argentine to win the French Open -- in 1977. Vilas won a total of four Grand Slam titles. \nCoria, named after the former star, is considered the best clay-courter around with a 20-1 record this year. \nOn Wednesday, Gaudio meets No. 12 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, while Nalbandian faces three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. \nThere's another big Argentina-Brazil clash Wednesday: The countries' soccer teams square off in a World Cup qualifier. \n"Let's hope it's a victory -- 2-0," Nalbandian said. \nDIVIDED LOYALTIES \nKim Clijsters might have been divided over how to root when her fiancee Lleyton Hewitt faced Xavier Malisse. \nClijsters cheered for Malisse, a fellow Belgian, when he played 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the third round. \nBut Monday, she clapped only for Hewitt. \nHewitt, a former No. 1 and two-time major champion, cruised past fourth-round opponent Malisse 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (6). \nOften, after hitting winners, Hewitt would glance over at Clijsters in the stands. Other times, he cheered himself on with cries of "Come on!" \nBAD LANGUAGE \nMarat Safin's argument is this: If other professional athletes can swear without getting fined, why not tennis players? \n"You haven't seen the soccer players? I mean we are pretty decent compared to them," Safin said, noting also that National Football League and National Basketball Association players in the US tend to use "a lot of good words" during games -- without penalty. \nPrompted by a reporter's question, Safin returned to his discussion of what's wrong with his sport. He said tennis has too many rules, which are sapping entertainment value for viewers. \nThe Russian, who is seldom shy about expressing his emotions on or off court, was fined US$500 earlier in the tournament for throwing a racket.
“Road Runner” Alphonso Davies lived up to his nickname with another lightning sprint on Saturday as Bayern Munich opened a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga. Having defeated second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away in midweek, Bayern enjoyed a 5-0 romp over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Defender Mathias Joergensen scored an early own-goal before Benjamin Pavard, Robert Lewandowski (2) and Davies scored for Bayern. With five games remaining, the defending champions, who have won their past eight league games, are comfortably on course for an eighth straight league title. Davies scored the best goal of the game when the fleet-footed defender pressed Duesseldorf into making a mistake, barged
The losing captain thanked the winning team’s players for their personal sacrifices leading into the match and a charter flight pilot received a big round of applause when his plane beat incoming fog to touch down after midnight following another game as feel-good stories off the field matched those on it as the National Rugby League (NRL) restarted its season in Australia over the weekend. The New Zealand Warriors’ 18-0 win over St George Illawarra was the Auckland-based team’s first of the season after three rounds and it could not have come at a better time. Due to international travel restrictions
Taiwan Steel celebrated a big win over Tatung in the Taiwan Premier League yesterday, while undefeated Taichung Futuro remained at the top of the table, although their lead is only one point. Four of the eight teams were in action, completing matches postponed the previous weekend due to rain, with Taipower and Hang Yuan playing out a scoreless draw in Kaohsiung. Taiwan Steel are sorting out their early-season problems as they chase the leaders and it showed against defending champions Tatung at the Jhubei Stadium in Hsinchu County. Haitian striker Benchy Astama netted a brace and midfielder Kuo Po-wei’s outstanding solo effort sent
DISTANCING RULES: The government said social distancing should be maintained during disputes and celebrations, but conceded it would not be possible during play The Premier League on Saturday was given British government approval to press ahead with its June 17 restart, although players will have to stay apart during goal celebrations and disputes to maintain social distancing. Further details of the league’s plans for dealing with COVID-19 cases have been disclosed with clubs likely to have to play even if they only have 15 fit squad members. In a further boost to the league’s restart plans, there were no positives in the fourth round of twice-weekly testing. Tests were conducted on 1,130 players and club personnel on Thursday and Friday as contact training resumed. The season