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
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