Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, the British No 1 and 2 respectively, saw their hopes of an extended run here in the Cincinnati Masters, an important build-up to this month's US Open, come to an end in rapid succession last night.
First on court was Rusedski, who at least took his opponent, Spain's Tommy Robredo, to two tie-breaks before succumbing 7-6, 7-6 in the third round.
In contrast, Henman, next on to court, was simply blown away. Facing Lleyton Hewitt, he lost 6-1, 6-4. Henman has now failed to beat the Australian in eight encounters.
Rusedski had looked in control against Robredo. He struck the first blow by breaking the Spanish player in the fourth game. On his second break point, Rusedski's fiercely hit backhand forced an error from Robredo, whose shot drifted out.
However, in the ninth game and serving for the set, a horrendous double fault gave Robredo a break point. A fine serve from the Briton saved it before he then netted a simple backhand volley to give the Spaniard a second chance.
After another big serve, Rusedski looked to have control of the point but produced a weak volley and Robredo hit a fine passing shot on the run to win the game. Robredo then held his own serve to level the first set at 5-5. The set then went to a tie-break which Robredo won 7-4.
In the fourth game of the second set Robredo broke to take a 3-1 lead. At 4-2, Robredo saved a break point but then smashed the ball into the net on the next point to give the Briton another chance. This time Rusedski took the chance with a cross-court backhand volley.
There were no further breaks and again the set went to a tie-break. Robredo raced to a 7-2 victory.
The Spaniard will now face France's Fabrice Santoro in the quarter-finals. Santoro beat Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 6-0, 6-3.
Henman never looked like ending his depressing sequence against Hewitt. He won just four points in the opening five games of the first set, twice losing his serve.
The British No 1 was rightly furious with a bad line call which contributed to the second service break, but in truth he was a distant second best against the former world No 1. He finally held serve to win his first game of the match but Hewitt served out to take one of the most one-sided sets of tennis 6-1.
It looked like being at least a mercifully short ordeal for Henman when he went 40-0 down on his serve in the first game of the second set, but the 29-year-old dug deep to win the game.
Henman saved two more break points in the fifth game but Hewitt eventually found a way through to break for what proved a decisive lead.
Elsewhere, the defending champion, Andy Roddick, overwhelmed the 15th seed Paradorn Srichaphan 6-2, 6-3 in 53 minutes. The fourth seed, Spain's Carlos Moya, edged out Wayne Arthurs, of Australia, to win 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.Reuse content