Pavel closes door on struggling Hewitt

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lleyton Hewitt continues to search for the fleet of foot and baseline authority that not long ago made him a major force. The Australian 17th seed was defeated in the third round of the Nasdaq Open here yesterday by Andrei Pavel, of Romania, 6-4, 7-5.

Lleyton Hewitt continues to search for the fleet of foot and baseline authority that not long ago made him a major force. The Australian 17th seed was defeated in the third round of the Nasdaq Open here yesterday by Andrei Pavel, of Romania, 6-4, 7-5.

Although Hewitt has won titles in Sydney and Rotterdam this season, he has been far from convincing in the more prestigious events. The 30-year-old Pavel, ranked No 50, was the livelier competitor yesterday. He broke Hewitt in the last game of the opening set but almost beckoned Hewitt into the match after leading 4-1 in the second. Pavel double-faulted serving for the match at 5-3 and was unable to convert his first four match points, all on Hewitt's serve. The Australian double-faulted on the fifth match point.

Jennifer Capriati, the runner-up in the last two finals here, was defeated in the third round by Eleni Daniilidou, of Greece, 6-2, 6-4. It was Daniilidou's second win against the 27-year-old American in five weeks. The last time was at the Dubai Open. The Greek, ranked No 35, made the fourth-seeded Capriati work harder in the rallies and deserved to progress to the last 16.

Serena Williams took her second step back into the game, but her play was not as silky as her white dress as she overcame Elena Likhovtseva, of Russia, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, after an hour and 46 minutes.

The American defending champion took charge in the opening set with such sharpness and confidence that it was hard to believe she had been out of action since winning Wimbledon eight months ago. However, although every shot Williams hit whizzed past her opponent, Likhovtseva made it easy for the American by double-faulting to lose serve in the first and third games and double-faulting three times in the fifth game. Remarkably, Williams was broken while serving for the set at 5-1, but the Russian failed to win a point in the next game.

After losing the first set in 28 minutes, Likhovtseva took an injury time out to have her right knee strapped. The transformation was amazing. Likhovtseva broke Williams to 15 in the ninth game and closed out the set in spite of two more double-faults.

Williams asserted herself at the start of the final set, assisted by Likhovtseva's 10th double-fault to lose her serve in the second game, but Williams needed five match points to serve out the match at 5-3, finally hitting a backhand winner.

The usually mild-mannered Dutchman, Sjeng Schalken, was disqualified in the second round after hitting a ball out of the court and then swearing at the umpire. Schalken was losing at the time to the Argentinian Guillermo Canas, 6-1, 3-0.

Comments