Hewitt reaches first Aussie Open quarterfinals

Updated: January 24, 2005, 10:31 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Lleyton Hewitt, plagued by a sore right hip, appeared on his way out of the Australian Open.

The No. 3 seed needed treatment after losing the third set to unseeded Rafael Nadal and seemed in deep trouble. But he fed off the home crowd's energy and advanced to the quarterfinals Monday with a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory.

Trying to finish points quickly to limit his movement, Hewitt committed five consecutive errors in the fourth set after going ahead 0-40 while holding a 3-2 lead.

He then proved that he deserved his reputation as a battler. Hewitt got to a tiebreaker and won it, punctuating the points with his trademark fist pumps and shouts of "Come on!"

That got the fans roaring and left Nadal, 18, shaking his head.

Being pushed to five sets seemed to take some of the steam out of Nadal, touted as a rising star but hampered last year by a stress fracture in his right ankle that kept him out for three months. He came back to beat Andy Roddick and help Spain clinch a win over the United States in last month's Davis Cup final.

Nadal asked for a massage on his left thigh after Hewitt broke twice and ran off a 3-0 lead in the deciding fifth set. Hewitt stretched while laying on a towel.

While serving for the match at 5-2, Hewitt had a double-fault and two unforced errors to give Nadal a pair of break points. He fought back to deuce, double-faulted on his first match point and squandered a second, then finished with an ace and a backhand from Nadal that sailed just long after a lengthy rally.

Hewitt dropped to his knees in celebration as the crowd roared.

"This crowd is second to none," said Hewitt, who also rallied for Davis Cup victories on the same court. "I was hurting a little bit in the third set. You try to get all of the negative thoughts out of your mind."

Hewitt added that the injury, first sustained at a warmup tournament in Sydney, should not affect him in his next match against No. 9 David Nalbandian, a late-night 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 winner over fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria.

After facing three consecutive lefties, Andy Roddick struggled with the serve of right-handed German Philipp Kohlschreiber. But the second-seeded American smacked 15 aces and overcame a second-set letdown to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-6 (8), 6-1 win.

"I think I actually had a little trouble getting used to a serve coming from a righty, as weird as that sounds," he said. "Took me a little while to get on it."

He'll face another right-hander next, 25th-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who beat No. 12 Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Earlier in the tournament, Davydenko eliminated No. 7 Tim Henman.

Roddick allowed the 102nd-ranked Kohlschreiber only one break opportunity while he figured out his righty serve. He was erratic in the second set, doubling his number of unforced errors to 12 and throwing his racket to the court after sending a forehand long.

"I don't think I hit the ball as clean as I did in the first three matches," he said. "I just felt like I was fighting it a little bit more. I'm not too concerned. The good thing is I don't feel like I had my best day, and we're here talking about a three-set win."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press