Hewitt cuts down giant Karlovic in five-set thriller
Australia's Lleyton Hewitt survived a 55-ace barrage from giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic to reach the French Open second round on Sunday with a 6-7 (1/7), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-3 victory.
It was the fifth time in his career that the 28-year-old, former world number one had come back from a two-set deficit and he made the most of his 26th-seeded opponent gradually wilting in Court One temperatures of 30 degrees.
Hewitt, now ranked 50 and who underwent hip surgery in August last year, will face Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan for a place in the third round where four-time champion Rafael Nadal would be a likely opponent.
Hewitt, a quarter-finalist here in 2001 and 2004, had famously lost to Karlovic in the first round at Wimbledon in 2003 when he was the defending champion and had subsequently come up short in his following two matches.
The Australian, with a claycourt title from Houston already under his belt this season, is playing his 10th Roland Garros.
However, it looked like being a short visit when the 26th seeded Karlovic, a first round loser in the last three years, sped into a two-set lead.
But as the afternoon became warmer, the 6ft 10in (2.08m) Karlovic began to wilt.
Once Hewitt had levelled the tie at two sets apiece, Karlovic needed treatment for dehydration and Hewitt seized his opportunity, breaking to lead 2-1.
He claimed the tie after almost four hours when Karlovic, reduced to walking pace, unleashed a lazy volley which flew long.