Rafael Nadal continues march towards fifth French Open title

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
rafael nadal

Nadal beat Hewitt in straight sets to reach the fourth round

Rafael Nadal yesterday continued his march towards a fifth Roland Garros title with an accomplished performance against Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt, 29 and one of the most tenacious players on the tour, provided Nadal with constant concern throughout the two-and-a-half hours it took to dismiss the Australian. The final score of 6-3 6-4 6-3 did not credit the industrious Hewitt for his efforts.

Despite the disappointment of dropping the first set to Nadal, the former Wimbledon champion continued to press, causing problems with his short returns. A closely contended second set almost inevitably saw Nadal break at 4-4 and seal a two set lead in the tenth game.

The 28th seed, who has undergone numerous hip operations in recent years, could not conjure up a comeback against the four-time French Open champion. Nadal remains on course to reclaim his mantle from Roger Federer.

Elsewhere the Suzanne Lenglen show court witnessed the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Andy Roddick, the big serving American, suffered a shock third round loss to the 114th-ranked Teimuraz Gabashvili who overcame Roddick in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-2.

A seething Roddick was highly critical of the organisers of the tournament, complaining the covers at the back of the court had accumulated rainwater and as a result had caused the tennis balls to become heavy.

“They dry the whole court, but then they leave the tarps soaking wet. If a ball rolls through a puddle enough times, can you tell me what happens to it?” said Roddick.

“Then, when clay attaches to it, it doesn’t get lighter,” he added.

David Ferrer, the in form clay court specialist, was defeated by Austrian Jürgen Melzer. The 22nd seed enjoyed a comfortable straight sets victory 6-4 6-0 7-6 (7-1).

Seventh seed Fernando Verdasco endured through a painful toe injury to beat Germany’s Kohlschreiber. The Spaniard overcame the 30th seed in five sets 2-6 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-4.

Serbian Novak Djokovic dropped a set against Romania’s Hanescu before recovering to move into the next round. And the third seed will be joined by the Nicolás Almagro and the 24th seed Thomaz Bellucci who will play Nadal in the fourth round.

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