Hewitt, Paradorn book fourth-round date
Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia breezed into a fourth-round showdown at the US Open with impressive victories here Saturday.
Paradorn, the 11th seed, equaled his best Slam showing by beating Spanish lucky loser Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Sixth seed Hewitt advanced when Czech Radek Stepanek retired due to back pain with the Aussie ahead 6-1, 3-0.
"It's going to be a good match. I'm loking forward to playing him," Paradorn said. "It's going to be a tough match for me and for him too."
Hewitt enters Monday's duel for a quarter-final spot 4-1 against the Asian ace, having won last year in Paris, Miami and San Jose and in 2001 at Indian Wells. Paradorn's lone victory over him was in the 2002 Tokyo quarter-finals.
"In that match, I was holding my serve, good hitting holding well, ready to make the next shot, to go for it," Paradorn said. "He's always tough."
Paradorn's only prior Slam trip to the round of 16 came at in July at Wimbledon, where he was ousted by American Andy Roddick.
Paradorn, the first Asian to crack the ATP's Top 10, won his fourth career title and second title of the year a week ago, defeating American James Blake to defend his ATP Long Island crown. He also won at Chennai in January.
Verdasco, 19, reached his second Slam despite a qualifying loss due to a late withdrawal, but lost his only break-point chance to fall in 88 minutes.
"It was great for the next match," Paradorn said. "I'm not using a lot of energy."
Paradorn, 24, denied his 119th-ranked foe the first fourth-round Slam run by a lucky loser since Dick Norman at Wimbledon in 1995.
Hewitt won nine of the first 10 games when Stepanek called a trainer to the court. The 24-year-old Czech lay on his stomach as the trainer rubbed his lower back. Stepanek lost two of the next three points and then quit the match.
Hewitt, the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion, ousted Stepanek from a Slam for the second time this year, having knocked him out of the Australian Open in the third round as well.
This is the first time in seven events that Hewitt has not enetered a Slam as the top seed. His plunge came after a first-round loss to qualifier Ivo Karlovic in July at Wimbledon.
"He has been playing well for two years," Paradorn said. "Nobody can hold that up all the time. He's tough, especially at this Grand Slam. His mind is really into it."
Later matches set for the Flushing Meadows hardcourts included world number one Andre Agassi against long-time Russian rival Yevgeny Kafelnikov and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium against Japan's Saori Obata.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce of France advanced in 71 minutes with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Japan's 55th-ranked Shinobu Asagoe.
Pierce, 28, is making an unlikely bid for the third leg of a career Grand Slam, having won the 1995 Australian Open and 2000 French Open crowns.
"To win another one, I would probably have a breakdown on the court," Pierce said. "Definitely that's a dream."
Pierce, ranked 64th, booked a round of 16 date against the winner of a later match between Russian seventh seed Anastasia Myskina and Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo.
"I'm not going to count myself out and I'm not going to put pressure on myself," Pierce said. "I'm still in the process of working myself back to the level I would like to be at."
Russia's Elena Dementieva, seeded 11th, ousted American Amy Frazier 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/3) and will play for a berth in the quarter-finals against either France's Emilie Loit or American sixth seed Jennifer Capriati.