Hewitt advances to second round

Associated Press

Hamburg, May 11:

Lleyton Hewitt saved a set point and beat Jonas Bjorkman 6-0, 7-6 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Hamburg Masters. In other early action, 13th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez also advanced, but two seeded players were eliminated — No 9 Nicolas Massu and No 14 Sjeng Schalken. Hewitt faced a set point on serve while down 6-5 in the second set but survived when Bjorkman put a forehand wide. Bjorkman blew a 4-2 lead in the tiebreaker and hit a backhand wide to surrender the match. It was one of his 26 unforced errors.

Hewitt began the year by winning two of his first three tournaments but his best showing on clay so far this season is the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Gonzalez beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 6-4, Juergen Melzer upset Massu 6-3, 6-0, and Schalken retired with Oscar Hernandez leading 5-1. Hernandez only got into the main draw after the withdrawal of third-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero with a wrist injury. Albert Costa, the 1998 Hamburg champion, advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Xavier Malisse.The $2.9 million clay-court event is the fifth of nine Masters Series tournaments, one tier below the Grand Slams.

Italian Open

ROME: Croatian teenager Karolina Sprem kept up her good form with a first-round win at the Italian Open, beating Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2. Sprem, who pushed Venus Williams to three sets in the German Open semi-finals on Saturday, combined powerful serves and aggressive ground strokes to keep Hantuchova from getting comfortable on the slow, red clay courts. Also on Monday, 2000 French Open champion Mary Pierce of France beat Argentine qualifier Gisela Dulko 6-1, 6-4, and 16th-seeded Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi of Israel defeated Spain’s Magui Serna 6-2, 6-4.

The 25th-ranked Sprem is enjoying a streak of good form. In her third semi-final this season, she led Williams 3-0 in the final set before eventually losing. She had not lost a set until facing Williams. Venus’ sister Serena, the top seed in Rome, is scheduled to play her second-round match against Maria Sanchez Lorenzo of Spain. The second-seeded Mauresmo was to open up on Wednesday against either Nathalie Dechy or Kristina Brandi. The $1.3 million Italian Open is a major tuneup for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year that starts on May 24.