Chela fined $2,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Andre Agassi overcame a record number of aces from Joachim Johannson on Sunday and set up an Australian Open quarterfinal against defending champion and top-ranked Roger Federer.
Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner and four-time champion in Melbourne, produced one of his great performances to defeat the 6-foot-6 Johansson, who slammed 51 aces in their 2-hour, 38-minute fourth-round match.
One of the best returners of serve, Agassi endured Johansson's serves, breaking the Swede three times to win 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Agassi, 34, dropped his own serve twice, at the start of the first and fourth sets, and made only 13 unforced errors in the match -- none in the first set.
"It was a tough day," said Agassi. The 11th-seeded Johansson was pushing the limits on almost every shot. He mixed 66 unforced errors with a remarkable 96 winners, including his aces and service winners.
Johansson, 22, surpassed Richard Krajicek's mark of 49 aces in a quarterfinal loss to Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov at the 1999 U.S. Open.
Johansson's final three aces came in his last service game.
"Joachim today was hitting the ball so big," Agassi said. "What can you do but sort of react?
"I was anxious the whole time," he added. "I had to stay focused and disciplined, give myself a look and hope I can convert on the few chances I do get."
Quite simply, Agassi said, returning against Johansson "is not fun."
"It's very uncomfortable," he said. "You just have to admire it while you're out there because there's just not a whole lot you can do when destiny is in somebody's hands that extremely."
Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open winner, lost 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 to Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty.
Federer, whose 11 titles in 2004 included three majors, extended his winning streak to 25 matches with a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (4) defeat of Marcos Baghdatis.
Federer has won 48 out of his last 50 matches, and hasn't lost since the second round at the Athens Olympics last August.
Baghdatis broke Federer's serve once and stunned Federer with some brilliant crosscourt forehands in the third set.
Federer, who beat Baghdatis at the last U.S. Open in the 19-year-old Cypriot's only other appearance at a major, fell behind 3-0 in the tiebreaker before reeling off five straight points.
"I enjoyed the battle for sure," said Federer. "After I've won, it's always good to battle it out and win it."
No. 4 Marat Safin of Russia rallied to defeat Olivier Rochus of Belgium, 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2). The 6-4 Safin fired 29 aces and had just one double fault against the 5-5 Rochus, who had one ace and three double faults.
Safin lost to Federer in the finals of the Australian Open last year after snapping Agassi's 26-match tournament winning streak in the semifinals.
American doubles combination Bob and Mike Bryan nearly lost their third-round doubles match to 13th-seeded Israeli pair of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram. The Israelis led the third-set tiebreak 5-1 before the third-seeded Bryans rallied to 5-5, then later saved two match points to win 10-8 in tiebreaker.
Third-round men's action Saturday was highlighted by Lleyton Hewitt's victory against Juan Ignacio Chela in a match full of spit and venom.
Chela became angry when he thought Hewitt's loud cry of "Come on!" was a bit too much celebration for an unforced error that resulted in triple break point in the fifth game of the fourth set.
He drove his next serve at Hewitt, even though this was a critical part of the match. Hewitt converted the break and Chela spat toward Hewitt when the players were switching sides.
"He spat in my direction," said Hewitt, who won the third-round match 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. "It's unfortunate because we were having a dogfight match out there. We're both competitive blokes, we were going for it."
"It's sad that something like that happens," he added. "But, you know, he apologized to me at the net when we shook hands and I said, 'Just forget about it, mate."'
Chela said he didn't spit at Hewitt. As for the serve Hewitt had to dodge, the Argentine said he couldn't remember anything about it.
"It was a very tense moment in the match," he said. "There was a lot of pressure. He thought I spat at him. I felt bad. At the end of the match, I went up to him to apologize."
On Sunday, tournament referee Peter Bellinger, after reviewing videotapes of the match, fined Chela $2,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.
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