PARIS -- The Spanish clay-court armada that was expected to dominate the men's side of the French Open sprang a few leaks Saturday on a rainy, cold, windy and miserable day -- the sort of day supposedly tailor-made for grinding dirtballers.
Only the admiral of that fleet, Rafael Nadal, kept his ship on course.
Nadal handled Aussie veteran Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to move into the round of 16, and next will face Brazilian lefty Thomaz Bellucci, the No. 24 seed.
"I saw the clouds gathering. When I walked on the court, I looked at the sky, and I kept looking at the sky because I really wanted to wrap up this match," Nadal said. "I did not want to continue playing this particular match tomorrow."
Meanwhile, No. 9 seed David Ferrer, the winner of the most clay-court matches on the ATP Tour this season, fell to Austrian lefty Jurgen Melzer, the No. 22 seed, 6-4, 6-0, 7-6, while 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, the No. 16 seed, lost to a player whose last win at the tour level came Jan. 5.
Robby Ginepri of the U.S. won the first two sets against Ferrero, dropped the next two, was down a break in the fifth but finally managed to pull out a 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 win that leaves him as the last American man standing, after the dismissal of Andy Roddick by qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
Roddick had no tournament preparation coming in, on his least-favourite surface. He needed a hot, dry day to make his big serve a weapon.
"I fought through a couple of matches that were a little dicey,' Roddick said. "Today I got outplayed from the first ball. It was a tough matchup for me in these conditions. He has pretty big swings and gets good length on the ball.
Another Spaniard, No. 7 seed Fernando Verdasco, nearly suffered the same fate as his countryman.
Verdasco also dropped the first set of his match against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, but came back and won 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. Both Ferrer and Ferrero were in Nadal's quarter of the draw.
Meanwhile, the most anticipated first-week match on the women's side began, but won't finish until Sunday.
That it was between the No. 12 seed and the No. 22 seed is immaterial when the No. 12 seed is Maria Sharapova of Russia, and the No. 22 seed is four-time champion Justine Henin of Belgium.
When play was suspended at about 9:15 p.m., Sharapova had just taken the second set 6-3 after Henin won the first 6-2.
Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, the No. 4 seed, defeated No. 27 seed Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-4, 7-6 and joins top seed Serena Williams of the U.S. and No. 7 seed Samantha Stosur of Australia, both of whom posted victories Saturday, in the final 16.
Williams had some serious issues against 18-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia before finally winning 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.
Williams said she started feeling dizzy in the second game of the match. The tournament physician, Dr. Bernard Montalvan, came on court, took her temperature and gave her some pills.
"Yeah, I don't know what they were, to be honest. I just took them. He said they can help me, like, feel better in a little bit," Williams said.
Despite the usual Serena grimaces of agony and slumped shoulders of doom, she played on and by the third set, her condition improved.
The French hopes on the women's side were dashed when both No. 15 Aravane Rezai and No. 13 seed Marion Bartoli lost.
Rezai returned to the court to complete her match with No. 19 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia, which had been called because of darkness Friday night, with the scored tied at 7-7 in the third set. Petrova won it 10-8.
Bartoli was beaten 7-6, 6-2 by No. 18 seed Shahar Peer of Israel. The deciding point in the first set came on a ball at the baseline that the chair umpire judged to be on the line. The electronic Hawkeye system, which is not used on the red clay, showed it to be out.
Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., and partner Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic were eliminated 6-1, 6-1 in the second round of doubles by the Czech team of Iveta Benesova and Barbora Strycova.
Toronto's Daniel Nestor and partner Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia, the No. 2 seeds, eliminated Simon Greul of Germany and Peter Luczak of Poland 6-1, 6-4 to reach the third round.
-- Canwest News Service