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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Superb Nadal passes Hewitt test
Rafael Nadal needed two hours and 21 minutes to beat Lleyton Hewitt
Nadal needed two hours and 21 minutes to beat Lleyton Hewitt
Defending champion Rafael Nadal hit peak form to see off Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-1 7-6 (7-5) and reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Hewitt was expected to pose Nadal's first test of the tournament but he was outclassed in the first two sets.

The Australian fought back brilliantly to take the third set into a tiebreak but despite leading it 4-2, he was unable to stop the Nadal juggernaut.

The second seed will face fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya in the last eight.

"It's perfect to be in the quarter-finals and it's perfect play. Ten times better than the last few days," said the 21-year-old.

MEN'S QUARTER-FINALS
Federer v Robredo
Davydenko v Canas
Djokovic v Andreev
Moya v Nadal

"The match was tough all the way. I'm very happy with my game. I played the best match of the tournament for sure.

"I like his game a lot, and I like his attitude on court. He is a fighter, so I like that."

Despite the defeat, Hewitt can still boast a 4-3 winning record against Nadal but his three defeats have all come on clay.

Monday's match exemplified exactly why.

Nadal's topspin groundstrokes kept Hewitt pinned behind the baseline from where he was unable to conjure any sort of attack.

Even the Spaniard's serve, not his most potent weapon, proved too strong for Hewitt, who prides himself on his return.

In the first set, Nadal won 71% of points when he got his first serve in and that figure rose to 78% in the second.

It got even better in the third, at 82%, but by then Hewitt had improved his own serve.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's John Lloyd

The Australian's challenge looked to be over when he finally dropped serve at 5-5, but the former world number one fought back once more as the crowd willed him to extend the match into a fourth set.

However, at 5-4 in the tiebreak, Hewitt put a relatively easy forehand into the net and Nadal seized his chance to clinch victory in two hours and 21 minutes.

Hewitt said he now expected Nadal to go and win his third straight title at Roland Garros.

"The conditions here suit him well, probably more so than the court in Hamburg where Roger Federer beat him," said the Australian.

"He served really well and he hit his forehand up the line extremely well. He just hits the ball so differently to anyone out there.

"The spin he gets, it's quite amazing. (Fernando) Gonzalez has got a big forehand, but Nadal's is different.

"He has the best forehand to set up points on this surface."

SEE ALSO
Nadal v Hewitt as it happened
04 Jun 07 |  Tennis
Djokovic powers into last eight
04 Jun 07 |  Tennis
Roland Garros day nine photos
04 Jun 07 |  Tennis
Friday's order of play
30 May 07 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
22 May 07 |  Tennis
Contact the BBC TV tennis team
24 May 07 |  Tennis
Women's French Open draw
25 May 07 |  Tennis
Men's French Open draw
25 May 07 |  Tennis


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