Hewitt holds the aces
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:30
Karlovic, who is 6ft 10in tall, powered down 55 aces – which is believed to be a record for a singles match in the Open era – on Court One but still somehow lost, making it 11 successive five-set defeats for the Croatian.
The never-say-die spirit of Hewitt, the former world number one who is on an upward spiral after an injury-hit 2008, was in evidence as he posted a four-hour 6-7 (1/7) 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 6-3 victory to stay on course for a possible third-round meeting with top seed Rafael Nadal.
Home favourite Gilles Simon had major trouble dealing with his opponent from the United States, Wayne Odesnik, and it was nip and tuck until Simon finally eased away in the fifth set to seal a 3-6 7-5 6-2 4-6 6-3 triumph. He will next play another American, Robert Kendrick.
Eighth seed Fernando Verdasco wasted little time in brushing aside Florent Serra in straight sets to reach the second round. The Spaniard, who lost to Nadal in an epic Australian Open semi-final earlier this year, was in impressive form as he won 6-2 6-1 6-4.
David Ferrer, a compatriot of Verdasco and the 14th seed here, encountered few problems in his 6-2 6-4 6-4 success over Frederico Gil while 18th seed Radek Stepanek was also a comfortable straight-sets winner, beating 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio 6-3 6-4 6-1.
Earlier, Marat Safin, the 20th seed and, like Hewitt, a two-time grand-slam champion, launched his final Roland Garros campaign with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Frenchman Alexandre Sidorenko.
It was only the Russian’s second win on clay in his farewell season and he will next play France’s Josselin Ouanna, a winner in four sets against Marcel Granollers.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic, the 13th seed, lost only seven games as he cruised past Jan Hernych 6-0 6-4 6-3 and 31st seed Almagro crushed Agustin Calleri 6-4 6-1 6-3.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Dudi Sela, Philipp Petzschner and French lucky loser Mathieu Montcourt, who progressed after opponent Yen-Hsun Lu retired injured.