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Coria, Safin, Hewitt advance at Monaco

Updated: 2004-04-22 13:09

Guillermo Coria overwhelmed Nicolas Kiefer 6-0, 6-3 Wednesday to reach the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The third-seeded Coria improved to 7-0 on clay and 19-5 overall this season.

With defending champion Juan Carlos Ferrero exiting in the first round, Coria is now favorite to win at Monte Carlo. He lost in the final last year.

"It's good that Juan Carlos is out, because he is a very good player," Coria said. "My confidence right now is very high. I'm at ease on the court and very confident for this tournament."

Coria's form on clay is outstanding, with 22 straight wins since losing to Martin Verkerk in the 2003 French Open (news - web sites) semifinals.

The Argentine will face Andrei Pavel on Thursday.

In other action, two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt came back from a set and 0-3 down to beat Gaston Gaudio 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1. Hewitt even saved two match points at 6-5 in the second set.

"I was really struggling," Hewitt said. "He was playing some incredible tennis, and I was just trying to hang in there. I was a bit lucky in the end."

Hewitt hit only 28 winners and 52 unforced errors. But he feels the hard-fought nature of the match will pay off.

"It's good for my French Open preparation," he said. "Gaudio's got one of the best backhands in the world and moves so well on this surface. This gives me confidence for my clay-court season."

Hewitt could face Tim Henman in the quarterfinals if both win in the third round.

The sixth-seeded Henman advanced with a 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-3 win over David Sanchez. Henman now plays No. 9 Nicolas Massu.

Also, Marat Safin eliminated Max Mirnyi 6-4, 6-3 and next faces Wayne Arthurs, Rainer Schuettler beat Jean-Rene Lisnard, and No. 7 David Nalbandian got past Felix Mantilla 6-0, 5-7, 7-6 (4).

Two seeded players lost: No. 8 Sebastien Grosjean and No. 14 Verkerk

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