By Miles Evans
PARIS (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal broke down some typically stiff resistance from Australian Lleyton Hewitt to record a 6-3 6-4 6-3 victory in their third-round clash on a chilly afternoon at Roland Garros on Saturday.
Hewitt, who must be sick of the sight of the Mallorcan here after now losing to him in four of the last five years, rocked the Spaniard by breaking in the opening game, but Nadal hit back immediately and gradually cranked up the pressure.
Hewitt stood toe-to-toe with Nadal in some spellbinding baseline rallies, at one point prompting a forehand winner from the Spaniard which saw him roll over on his back into the red Parisian clay after executing the shot.
The Australian battled as tenaciously as ever, breaking the Nadal serve three times to keep the interest levels up for a crowd huddling from a chill wind, but he generally lacked the firepower to extend Nadal.
The end came after two hours and 28 minutes when Hewitt pelted a backhand long.
"He's an unbelievable player, a great champion, a former number one. When I was young I always watched Lleyton on TV, he was one of my idols and to play him is a pleasure," Nadal said in a courtside interview.
Nadal, a four-time champion, next plays Brazilian 24th seed Thomasz Bellucci on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.
(Editing by Martyn Herman)