Rafa routs Rochus, Hewitt humbled
Australia’s favourite tennis son, Lleyton Hewitt, lost in the opening round at the Aussie Open for the first time in seven years with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 defeat to Chilean 13th seed Fernando Gonzalez on Tuesday.
After the five-set marathon Hewitt admitted he always knew Gonzalez was a horrible draw to be handed in the first round of a major – for any of the top guys.
He’s a tough player to play against for anyone, even the best guys like Roger, Rafa, those guys, purely because he wants to play on his terms,” Hewitt said.
“He’s always going be the guy trying to dictate play. If he’s able to dictate play, then he’s extremely tough to beat. He’s a dangerous floater.
While Hewitt was left packing his bags, world No.1 Rafael Nadal was in devastating form and French seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet all went into round two.
Nadal began his bid for a first Aussie Open title by blasting his way past Christophe Rochus in the night session on the Rod Laver Arena.
The top seed was at times simply awesome as he thrashed the pint-sized Belgian 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
Earlier, Tsonga, who pulled out of last week’s Sydney event with a stomach injury, was also in fantastic form crushing Argentine Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Monfils, who reached the third round in 2007, will next meet Spanish No. 17 seed Nicolas Almagro – who prevailed in a five-set battle 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3 against Chilean Nicolas Massu.
Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis impressed the Melbourne crowds with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win against Albert Montanes of Spain.
In the womens draw, the only major shock was the departure of ninth seed Agnieska Radwanska who went down to Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.
The Williams sisters made solid starts to their Aussie Open campaigns, both winning in straight sets. Venus ousted Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 while second seed and three-time champion Serena whipped Meng Yuan of China 6-3, 6-1.
Russian Elena Dementieva was not so comfortable during a 7-6, 2-6, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Kristina Barrois.
Dementieva has come into the tournament on the back of a 10-match winning streak and will play in-form Czech Iveta Benesova in the second round.
“It was not easy today. I’ve played a lot of matches over the last two weeks,” said Dementieva.
Eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova kept her hopes alive by surviving a three-set encounter with Anastasia Rodionova. The Russian eventually triumphed 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the second round.
Elena Baltacha kept alive Britains chances in the women’s draw by sweeping aside Germanys Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1, 6-4.
After a trio of defeats from British women on Monday, Baltacha felt even more determined to reach round two. It gave me more motivation to keep the flag flying,” she said.
Baltacha faces 2006 Aussie Open champion Amelie Mauresmo in the second round.
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