Paris:The rain couldn't have come at a better time for Amelie Mauresmo.
After easily winning the first set in her second-round match against Nathalie Dechy at the French Open, Mauresmo struggled and was forced into a tiebreaker.
But, luckily for the fifth seed, rain delayed play for nearly two hours on Thursday, allowing the Frenchwoman to regroup and eventually earn a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-1 win.
"I came back much better ... really being able to play, and to play the game I know how to play," Mauresmo said.
Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal also advanced, extending his record at Roland Garros to 16-0, while Lleyton Hewitt rallied from a two-set deficit to reach the third round. Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova won in the women's draw.
On Friday, top-ranked Roger Federer was to play Potito Starace of Italy for a spot in the fourth round. Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 champion, and No 4 Nikolay Davydenko were also scheduled.
Women's matches were to include Venus Williams vs No 4 Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams vs Michaella Krajicek, and Justine Henin vs Mara Santangelo.
Mauresmo, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year, had an appendectomy in March, and she's still not feeling 100 percent.
"I felt tight. I felt not good in the match, especially the first two sets," said Mauresmo, who missed nearly two months after the surgery.
"In the last point of the tiebreak, I would say that I felt better, I mean physically speaking. I was less tight and tense."
Nadal, who stretched his latest clay-court winning streak to two, beat Flavio Cipolla 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, breaking the Italian seven times while losing his own serve twice - once in the third set.
"At the beginning he was a bit nervous. He would make mistakes," Nadal said.
Hewitt marches on
Hewitt overturned a two-set deficit for the fourth time in his career, beating 2004 champ Gaston Gaudio 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
The two-time Grand Slam champion had missed two months of action because of a back injury, but he broke Gaudio in the third and seventh games of the third set, and then again to open each of the two remaining sets.
"He's got to be one of the toughest second-round players to play," said Hewitt, who lost to Gaudio in the 2004 quarterfinals. "The first two sets he played fantastic."
Hewitt made 25 unforced errors in the first two sets, but limited that to 19 in the final three. He also had 20 aces, while Gaudio double-faulted 13 times.
Hewitt and Nadal could face each other in the fourth round at Roland Garros. The Australian lost to the second-ranked Spaniard at the same stage last year.
Sharapova won 10 straight games in pounding Jill Craybas of the United States 6-2, 6-1, and Serena Williams started on a tear against Milagros Sequera before the Venezuelan slowed down the eighth seed, who finally won 6-0, 7-6 (3).
"I don't think I played my best," said Williams, who won the Australian Open in January. "Just wasn't feeling that great."
No 3 Kuznetsova trailed 5-0 before rallying to beat Meghann Shaughnessy 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Other winners included No 7 Ana Ivanovic and No 9 Anna Chakvetadze, and men's No 6 Novak Djokovic, No 7 Ivan Ljubicic and 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
"Everybody now expects me to be the guy who can hurt the best two players in the world," said Djokovic, who has won three titles this year - including one on clay.