Thu, May 29, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Lleyton Hewitt left as last Australian man standing

AFP , PARIS

Lleyton Hewitt again found himself as the last Australian man standing at the French Open on Wednesday.

The former world No. 1 reached the second round when he brushed aside France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 where he will be the only Australian to feature following the first round exits of Peter Luczak, Chris Guccione and Robert Smeets.

Hewitt played through the pain of his troublesome hip injury which forced him to miss the entire European claycourt season.

“It’s still not 100 percent. There’s a little bit of pain and discomfort there,” said the 25th seed who hadn’t played at all since the Davis Cup win over Thailand six weeks ago.

“At the moment, I’m just trying to play through it as much as I can and see where it takes me,” he said.

His next stop will be against America’s Mardy Fish, who he lost to at the Indian Wells Masters in March, for a place in the last 32.

“He’s a great ball striker from both sides, with a great first serve. It’s a matter of hanging in there and grinding it out and hopefully come away with a good win,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt was free of the pressures of expectation in disposing of the 43rd ranked Mahut on a blustery Court One.

He finished the two-hour match in a flourish setting up match point with an ace and then firing down another, his seventh of the tie, to seal victory.

“It was tough out there especially on that court where the wind just swirls around the whole place,” Hewitt said.

“It doesn’t really go one way or the other. You had to be mentally tough out there,” he said.

“He’s got a big kick serve and on that court, one of the quicker courts where it’s a little bit drier than the others, his serve really kicks off and it’s not easy to dictate play,” he said. “But I stepped it up when I needed to especially on my return of serve.”

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