Hewitt and Venus advance in French Open


Lleyton Hewitt and Venus Williams led a procession of seeds into the second round of the French Open on a rain-disrupted first day of action at Roland Garros today.

Men's top seed Hewitt put in a solid performance on Court Suzanne Lenglen to beat Brazilian Andre Sa 7-5 6-4 7-5, while women's second seed Williams spent just 65 minutes sweeping aside Germany's Bianka Lamade 6-3 6-3.

Gustavo Kuerten opened the defence of his Roland Garros crown in fine style, beating Swiss Ivo Heuberger 7-5 6-2 6-2, while last year's runner-up Alex Corretja dispatched Czech Bohdan Ulihrach 6-1 6-4 6-1.

Hewitt just managed to squeeze his match in before rain forced play to be halted on all 16 courts at Roland Garros.

Hewitt will next face Andrei Stoliarov after the Russian beat Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 1-6 6-4 6-4 7-5.

Kuerten's match was caught by the rain - a 45-minute delay caused by persistent showers - but it did not seem to affect the three-times champion unduly.

Kuerten is bidding to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1978, 1979 and 1980 to win three back-to-back men's singles crowns at Roland Garros.

In other men's action, 16th seed Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco beat Jan-Michael Gambill in a marathon match, while Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson put aside his discomfort on clay to beat Argentine Franco Squillari 6-2 7-6 6-2.

In the women's draw, Williams - a first round loser here last year - became the first seed into the second round.

French 10th seed Amelie Mauresmo also atoned for a first round defeat in 2001 by ousting compatriot Camille Pin 6-4 6-1.

They were joined in the second round by 11th seed Daniela Hantuchova and 13th seed Elena Dementieva who also posted straightforward victories on the slow, red clay of the French capital.

Slovakia's Hantuchova gained revenge for a Miami defeat at the hands of Cara Black in March by dismissing the Zimbabwean 6-2 6-3.

Russian number one Dementieva was made to fight a little harder before easing past Czech Adriana Gersi 7-5 6-3.