Hewitt overcomes a record 55 aces
PARIS - Lleyton Hewitt lunged and whiffed at some serves, his racket hitting only air. He simply stood and watched other balls whirr past.
Over and over and over again, 6-foot-10-inch Ivo Karlovic smacked aces from on high in their first-round match, finishing with a French Open-record 55.
Those easy points helped Karlovic take the first two sets - and made Hewitt think back to the day in 2003 when he was the defending champion at Wimbledon and lost his opening match to the tallest player in tour history.
"The angle he gets, you can't touch a lot of his serves," Hewitt said. "It's physically impossible."
This time, as the 26th-seeded Karlovic tired in heat that topped 80 degrees, Hewitt grew more and more comfortable, and the two-time major champion's bothersome hip looked fine while he climbed all the way back for a 6-7 (1-7), 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Theirs was the most riveting match of the day.
In addition, there were straight-set wins for defending champion Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray, and Marat Safin - and straight-set exits for 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio and Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, who was seeded 16th.
The talented Safin, who was a semifinalist in 2002, is seeded 20th.
After his first-round victory over Alexandre Sidorenko, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, Safin was asked by a French TV interviewer whether this is his last appearance at Roland Garros. Safin replied: "I'm tired of talking about this."
Pressed, he said: "Well, yeah, I decided, I think, to stop. I had my 12 years of my career. It was a great experience, but it's time to move on."