Tsonga finds feet on clay

BARCELONA - Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a comfortable debut at the Barcelona Open yesterday as the event paused to pay tribute to former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

BARCELONA - Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a comfortable debut at the Barcelona Open yesterday as the event paused to pay tribute to former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

A minute's silence was observed prior to the start of the afternoon second-round match between Spaniards Marcelo Granollers and eighth seed David Ferrer.

Frenchman Tsonga began putting his clay season back together after losing in the third round last week in Monte Carlo, posting a 6-36-2 win over Czech Jan Hajek in the second round at the Real Tennis Club.

Tsonga took just 65 minutes to lift his clay campaign with the start of the French Open s little more than a month away. The Frenchman saved both of the break points he faced against the 86th-ranked Hajek, who won a round on clay this month in Casablanca.

Australian Lleyton Hewitt continued to have his problems with the surface, losing to Eduardo Schwank 7-6(7-3) 6-4 to make an early exit in his first appearance at the tournament in eight years.

In 2002, at the height of his tennis powers as world No 1 and three months away from winning Wimbledon, Hewitt got as far as the semifinals.

But after squeezing through a tight first-round match on Tuesday over modest 123rd-ranked Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan, the 29-year-old Australian was unable to bounce back against the last Argentine remaining in contention.

Hewitt has been making a return from hip surgery in January - his second hip operation - and will now hope to lift his clay game in Rome next week.

Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker reached the third round by beating Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-6(7-5) 6-3, while home player Guillermo Garcia-Lopez rallied past Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 1-6 7-6(7-5) 6-4. - Sapa-AFP

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