Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Teenager challenges Lleyton Hewitt


Second seed Lleyton Hewitt beat Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Tuesday, turning back the French teenager's bid for a second upset at the US$3.1 million Paris Masters in as many days.

The 18-year-old Monfils, who beat Thomas Enqvist in the first round on Monday, easily traded shots with the two-time Grand Slam winner to the delight of packed crowd at the Bercy indoor arena.

"He [Monfils] had nothing to lose and he is a great player," Hewitt said. "I knew it would be tough and he could handle the pressure."

Also Tuesday, defending champion Tim Henman cruised past Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan 6-3, 6-4 in another second-round clash.

Monfils was playing only his fifth match on the main ATP tour, following a junior career that included three Grand Slam titles and a No. 1 ranking.

"He is going to become a very, very big player in the future," said Hewitt, who is seeking his fifth ATP title of the season.

Monfils said he was surprized the match had not been "more difficult."

"I thought the score would be bad for me," he said. "I still have a lot of work to do but, in fact, the gap between him and me is not that large."

Both scored a service break and were tied in the opening set at 3-3, but Hewitt profited from a sloppy Monfils service game to lead 5-3 ahead and won the set in 37 minutes.

After another pair of breaks to open the second, Hewitt established a 3-1 lead and appeared in control of the match until Monfils broke again to even the set 3-3.

The match remained on serve to the tiebreak, when Hewitt won on two Monfils serves and led 6-3. The Australian punched his fist twice into the ground after clinching the win.

Henman, meanwhile, said he was pleased with the discipline he showed, dropping only seven points on his serve, serving five aces and never facing a break point. In contrast, he broke Paradorn three times from seven chances.

"I was relaxed and I served consistently," Henman said, adding that the fact he was already qualified for the Masters Cup in Houston without having to hit a ball "took a lot of weight off" his shoulders.

Elsewhere, Robin Soderling of Sweden rallied to beat Italian Davide Sanguinetti 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-0 in another second-round match.

Soderling, 20, is seeking his second ATP title of his career after winning his first at the Lyon Open last month. He next meets the winner of a second-round clash between No. 12 seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia and Frenchman Cyril Saulnier.

Romanian Andrei Pavel, the No. 11 seed and runner-up last year, reached the third round with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over American Mardy Fish. Germany's Tommy Haas overwhelmed Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-1, 7-6 (1), winning the first set in just 26 minutes.

In remaining first-round matches, Feliciano Lopez of Spain served 10 aces as he downed German Rainer Schuettler 7-6 (3), 6-4, and Russian Nikolay Davydenko beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-3 in 55 minutes.

Russian Mikhail Youzhny advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 7-6 (2) win over Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman, and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic beat Frenchman Michael Llodra 7-6 (2), 6-1, despite playing much of the match injured.

"I came here to enjoy myself but it did not turn out that way," said the 24-year-old Llodra, who has never won a set in three visits to Bercy. "It's true that I've had a long season, but that's no excuse."

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