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Hewitt tips Nadal to complete hat-trick
June 05, 2007 11:17 IST
The Australian was pummelled 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 by the defending champion in the fourth round as Nadal edged closer to becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win three straight French Open titles.
World number one Roger Federer [Images] ended Nadal's incredible 81-match winning streak on clay in the Hamburg final last month, but Hewitt believes Nadal has the measure of the Swiss maestro on the slightly quicker Paris courts.
"I think the conditions here in Paris suit him well," Hewitt told reporters. "It bounces around a lot more out there [than Hamburg], which I think helps Nadal a lot more.
"The ball was probably in Roger's zone a little bit more in Hamburg, that hitting zone. But if Nadal uses his forehand right here he's going to be tough to beat."
Hewitt has faced many of the great shots in tennis, including the Sampras serve and the Federer forehand, but he ranks Nadal's devilish forehand up there with the best, especially on clay.
"The spin he gets, it's quite amazing. [Fernando] Gonzalez has got a big forehand, but Nadal's is different. He can really work it over with that forehand. Nadal has the best forehand to set up points on this surface."
Former world number one Hewitt was hardly in it against Nadal. He had just one glimmer of hope at 5-4 in the third set tiebreak when he missed a half court forehand.
"I went for a bit too much but that's what he makes you do," said the 26-year-old who still boasts a winning record against Nadal, one of only four active players who can make that claim.
"He moves so well on this surface, you feel like you've got to hit perfect shots against him."
After some solid performances during the claycourt season, Hewitt said he will take plenty of positives into Wimbledon.
"Playing on grass is totally different," said the 2002 Wimbledon champion. "But my ball-striking is good and I've served pretty well.
"Hopefully I can continue that because it is such a big part on grass. Obviously Roger's the favourite but I put myself in that next category. I'm looking forward to it."
Nadal will meet 30-year-old compatriot Carlos Moya [Images] on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals. Both men come from Majorca.
"He's a friend," Nadal said. "He is somebody important to me for my career and I need to thank him. He's always been a gentleman. And I had wonderful experiences with him. We won the Davis Cup together, and that brought us together, really.
"I don't have any idols, any heroes, nothing, no.
"But sure, having a player like Moya in Mallorca was very, very important for me. And for sure, I have the opportunity for practise with him a lot of times. Having a model close to you is easier."
The French Open 2007 coverage