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AGE NO BARRIER: Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman became the oldest man in 35 years to reach the French Open fourth round when he defeated Spain's Oscar Hernandez. Photo: AP
PARIS: Amelie Mauresmo's hopes of finally winning her home Grand Slam tournament were left in tatters on Saturday when she lost 6-3, 7-6(3) to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in a third-round tie.
It was the former world No. 1's 13th attempt at winning at Roland Garros and once again she came up well short.
The 27-year-old from the Paris suburbs came into the tournament desperately short of match practice having taken two months out to recover from an operation to remove her appendix.
Despite that she led 3-0 in both sets, but was incapable of maintaining her form allowing the 20-year-old Safarova to claw her way back on each occasion.
Mauresmo needed to take a medical time-out for a thigh problem in the first set.
But she seemed to be playing unhindered after that and it was simply that she was unable to reproduce the form that brought her the Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns last year.
"I am disappointed because in both sets I led 3-0, but just could not push home my advantage," Mauresmo said after the match.
There were problems also for glamour girl Maria Sharapova, but she won through 6-1, 6-4 despite struggling with a shoulder injury, in an all-Russian tie against Grand Slam debutant Alla Kudryavtseva.
The completed last-16 in the women's tournament saw no unseeded player survive and only Mauresmo from the top 10 failed to make it.
Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman became the oldest man in 35 years to reach the French Open fourth round when he defeated Spain's Oscar Hernandez.
Bjorkman, 35, was the oldest player in the men's singles this year but he showed that age is no barrier to success when he came back from a set down to beat Hernandez 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-0, 6-1.
He will face 1998 champion Carlos Moya, the Spanish 23rd seed, who beat Argentinian qualifier Juan Pablo Brzezicki 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 for a place in the quarterfinals.
Easy win for Nadal
Double defending champion Rafael Nadal celebrated his 21st birthday a day early by easing into the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 win over Spanish compatriot Albert Montanes.
Nadal, who turns 21 on Sunday, took his Roland Garros record to 17-0 and has hardly looked in trouble in the first week where he has progressed into the fourth round without losing a set.
Nadal was quickly into his stride on Saturday breaking in the fourth and six games although the opening set took almost an hour to decide with point after point being decided by brutally long rallies in the 29-degree heat.
Two more breaks in the third and ninth games gave Nadal a two-sets lead and he nipped ahead with another break in the second game of the third to build the platform for another comfortable win.
Sixth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia also reached the last 16 with a marathon 7-6(2), 2-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over French wildcard Olivier Patience. Patience's loss means that for the first time in 10 years there will be no Frenchman in the last 16 of the tournament
Sharapova won her tie against Kudryavtseva easily enough in the end but she had to come back from 1-4 down in the second set after her suspect serve once again let her down.
The 20-year-old second seed had two months on the sidelines to recover from a severe bout of tendonitis in her right shoulder that required a cortisone injection and only returned to action at the Istanbul Cup last week. She says the injury is still bothering her and it showed at times in a wobbly second set in which her serve was broken three times by her unheralded 19-year-old opponent.
Also through to the last 16 in the bottom half of the draw were third seed and last year's beaten finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and rising Serb seventh seed Ana Ivanovic.
Leander Paes and Martin Damm crashed out of the men's doubles after a three-set loss in the second round on Saturday.
The third-seeded Indo-Czech pair, the reigning US Open champions, went down 3-6, 6-1, 3-6 to Michael Kohlmann and Rainer Schuettler of Germany.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathi and Radek Stepanek from the Czech Republic advanced to the third round, beating Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-1, 6-3.
In the first round of the mixed doubles, Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner Paola Suarez from Argentina were beaten by Tathiana Garbin of Italy and Paul Hanley of Australia 7-6(4), 6-3. Leander Paes and Meghann Shaughnessy of USA had better luck beating seventh seeds Yung-Jan Chan of Taipei and Mike Bryan of USA 6-2, 6-0.
Prefix denotes seeding
Men: Third round: 16-Marco Baghdatis (Cyp) bt Jan Hajek (Cze) 6-2, 6-2, retired; Jonas Bjorkman (Swe) bt Oscar Hernandez (Esp) 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-0, 6-1; Igor Andreev (Rus) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fra) 7-6(4), 6-0, 6-3; 15- David Nalbandian (Arg) bt Gael Monfils (Fra) 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5); 29-Filippo Volandri (Ita) bt 7- Ivan Ljubicic (Cro) 6-4, 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; 9-Tommy Robredo (Esp) bt Janko Tipsarevic (Srb); Guillermo Canas (Arg) bt Kristof Vliegen (Bel) 6-2, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Doubles: Second round: Michael Kohlmann/ Rainer Schuettler (Ger) bt 3-Martin Damm (Cze)/ Leander Paes (Ind) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
Women: Third round: 24- Anabel Medina-Garriques (Esp) bt 12-Daniela Hantuchova (Slk) 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5; 14-Patty Schnyder (Sui) bt Karin Knapp (Ita) 6-1, 4-6; 15-Shahar Peer (Isr) bt 17- Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3; 2-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) 6-1, 6-4; 7-Ana Ivanovic (Ser) bt Ioana Raluca Olaru (Rom) 6-2, 6-0; 3-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt Dominika Cibulkova (Slk) 6-2, 6-3; 14-Patty Schnyder (Sui) bt Karin Knapp (Ita) 6-1, 4-6, 7-5; 9-Anna Chakvetadze (Rus) bt 21- Ai Sugiyama (Jpn) 6-4, 6-4; 25- Lucie Safarova (Cze) bt 5-Amelie Mauresmo (Fra) 6-3, 7-6(3); 15- Shahar Peer (Isr) bt 17-Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3; 8- Serena Williams (USA) bt Michaella Krajicek (Ned) 6-3, 6-4; 18-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt 13-Elena Dementieva (Rus) 6-2, 6-4.
Mixed doubles (first round): Sania Mirza (Ind)/ Fabrice Santoro (Fra) bt Vania King (USA)/Frantisek Cermak (Cze) 6-2, 6-0.
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