Thursday, January 19, 2006

Pierce and Hewitt Bow Out

Day Four wasn't kind to Mary Pierce or Lleyton Hewitt. Both Pierce and Hewitt were upset in the second round last night in Australia.

The women's fifth seed, Pierce fell in straight sets to Iveta Benesova 6-3, 7-5 while last year's men's runner-up Hewitt was taken out in four sets by Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-2.

The 31-year-old Pierce had trouble with her younger opponent's pace from the baseline. Benesova, a 22-year-old Czech who entered the match ranked 42nd, achieved her best slam result making the third round. The two-handed player was more consistent against an erratic Pierce, finishing with 22 less unforced errors. For the match, Pierce had 41 compared to Benesova's 19.

With Pierce unable to find the range in the first set, Benesova took advantage to close it out in 34 minutes.

In the second set, Pierce altered her game to throw Benesova's rhythm off. Able to go up a break for 5-3, she had a golden chance to force a final set. But in a lengthy ninth game, the persistent Benesova fought off a couple of set points and took advantage of a couple of easy misses from Pierce to get back on serve. Remarkably, Benesova ran off the final four games to pull out the match, finishing it in style with a drop shot winner.

"I'm so excited. It was the best match I've ever played. I'm really happy," Bedesova said at the postmatch conference Thursday. "This is definitely the best win in my whole career."

She'll next face Martina Hingis, who continued to impress in her comeback with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Finn Emma Laine.

Second seeded Kim Clijsters advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Meng Yuan. Third seeded Amelie Mauresmo won 7-6 (1), 6-2 over Emilie Loit. Mauresmo will next play Michaella Krajicek, who took out Sania Mirza (32) 6-3, 7-5.

Other seeds who advanced included Patty Schnyder (7), Anastasia Myskina (12), Francesca Schiavone (15), Nicole Vaidisova (16) and Flavia Pennetta (20).

Meanwhile, Sofia Arvidsson upset Dinara Safina (19) 6-4, 6-0 while Ana Ivanovic (21) fell to Australian Samantha Stosur 6-3, 7-5. Maria Sanchez Lorenzo eliminated Anna-Lena Groenefeld (22) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Aika Nakamura took out Gisela Dulko (31) 6-1, 6-1.

Austrian Sybille Bammer also advanced.

While Pierce was the big name sent home on the women's side, third seeded Aussie Hewitt was eliminated by Chela in a four set match which lasted over three hours.

Facing a familiar foe who he beat in a heated battle which included Chela spitting at him during a break in the third round last year on his path to the final, the 24-year-old Hewitt struggled for the second consecutive match.

After making 61 unforced errors in his five set first round win over Robin Vik, an unsteady Hewitt had 62 more which contributed to his demise. Against a similar opponent style-wise from the baseline, it was a recipe for disaster. Conversely, Chela finished with just 34 and had 49 winners.

Flat from the outset, Hewitt was broken right away by Chela in the first set. Though he broke back, he continued to have problems holding serve for the second consecutive match. Continually giving Chela break point chances, Hewitt paid the price to fall a set behind. For the match, Chela converted eight of 21.

Twice early in the second set, Hewitt held break leads of 2-0 and 3-1. But each time, a determined Chela bounced back. When Chela broke Hewitt for the third time in the set, he was able to make it stand up when Hewitt a volley to lead by two sets.

Trailing by two sets, Hewitt came out with more purpose in a seesaw third set, which saw him again trade breaks with Chela. As the two dueled in lengthy baseline rallies, it began to take its toll on the Aussie. During the fifth game of the set, Hewitt injured his left foot during an extended rally. Once it was over, he received a three minute medical timeout to have it taped up by a trainer. Unable to move as fluidly, he would hobble on it the rest of the match.

Despite not being 100 percent though, Hewitt perservered to get the set to a tiebreaker. However, before he could claim the set 10-8, Chela fought off six set points.

With the set lasting 71 minutes, it might have taken whatever fight Hewitt had out of him. Right away, Chela broke for the seventh time and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Hewitt earned one last break chance with a running forehand winner but on the next point, his backhand floated long. Unusually quiet most of the match, Hewitt let out a roar of disapproval. It would be his last chance.

Two games away from his biggest slam victory, Chela also received a medical timeout for some cramping in his thighs. One point away from having to serve it out, Chela took the final four points on Hewitt's serve to win the match. Symbolically, Chela concluded it with an inside-out forehand crosscourt return winner, producing a scream and pump of his fist before shaking hands with Hewitt.

Reminded about last year's incident, Chela said through a translator, "They talked a lot about what happened last year, but when I got on to the court I was just thinking about the tennis match and not about what happened last year."

Chela will next face Belgian Kristof Vliegen, who ousted 28th seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in four sets 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4), 7-5.

Top seeded Roger Federer advanced easily with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 destruction of German Florian Mayer. He'll next play former doubles partner Max Mirnyi (30), who took out Davide Sanguinetti 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8).

Fifth seeded Nikolay Davydenko advanced in four sets while sixth seeded Guillermo Coria won in straight sets. Coria will play Sebastien Grosjean (25), who prevailed over Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Dominik Hrbaty (12) needed five sets to overcome veteran Dick Norman 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 10-8. Juan Carlos Ferrero (15) also needed five to beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Australian Peter Luczak upset Olivier Rochus (24) 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-1.

Other Round Two winners included Nicolas Kiefer (21), Igor Andreev (23), German Tommy Haas, Aussie Nathan Healey, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Luis Horna.

Roddick Into Round of 16:On Day Five Friday, second seeded American Andy Roddick cruised into the Round of 16 over Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. He'll meet Marcos Baghdatis, who eliminated German Denis Gremelmayr in similar fashion 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

David Ferrer (11) also advanced over Mario Ancic (18) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. However, eighth seeded Argentian Gaston Gaudio fell victim to Fabrice Santoro, who posted a 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 1-6, 6-4 victory. Ferrer will meet Santoro next.

Meanwhile on the women's side, top seeded American Lindsay Davenport needed three sets to beat Russian Maria Kirilenko (25) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. She'll next face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova (14), who eliminated Mara Santangelo 6-3, 6-1.

Fourth seeded Maria Sharapova advanced without a problem over Croatian Jelena Kostanic 6-0, 6-1. She faces the winner of Serena Williams (13)-Daniela Hantuchova (17), which won't be played until later today.

Nadia Petrova (6) defeated Maria Elena Camerin 6-1, 6-2. Eighth seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne also moved on with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Virginie Razzano.

Other Round Three winners included Virginia Ruano Pascual and Elena Vesnina.

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