Ferrero tops Nalbandian, Nadal advances to quarters at Australian Open

Updated: January 20, 2008, 11:34 AM ET news services

David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero stepped back on the Rod Laver Arena court to begin the Sunday schedule little more than 6 hours after Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis walked off.

Former No. 1 Ferrero beat 10th-seeded Nalbandian 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in a third-round match postponed by rain Saturday.

[+] EnlargeJuan Carlos Ferrero
Peter ParksAFP/Getty ImagesAfter his upset over David Nalbandian, former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero (pictured) will face David Ferrer in a fourth-round match at the Australian Open.
"Right now, I'm trying to go to the court and be very aggressive all the time, be more aggressive than maybe the other guy," Ferrero told reporters after the 1 hour, 44 minute match.

"I was trying to be as aggressive as I was before when I was No. 1 or reaching my best results [and] ... that is giving me good results."

Nalbandian had suffered muscle spasms in his back the week prior to the tournament, and seemed unable to respond to anything the Spanish baseliner threw at him.

Ferrero added he had been particularly pleased with his serve and his ability to convert his break opportunities, though said it should not have been a surprise given his recent form.

"I'm playing good tennis since, I don't know, two months, something like this," the 27-year-old said.

"At the end of the last year I played good matches against top players. I came [here] playing well."

Ferrero made the final of the Auckland Open in New Zealand last week, losing to Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, which he said had given him confidence coming into the season's first Grand Slam.

"When you play matches against the top players like today, you know, you want to make your best.

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"I think I did it very well."

In another third-rounder, No. 5 David Ferrer beat American Vincent Spadea 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Ferrero will play Ferrer in the fourth round.

No. 24 Jarkko Nieminen beat Kohlschreiber 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (9), 6-3 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga edged No. 8 and fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-3.

In other action, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal eased into the quarterfinals when Paul-Henri Mathieu retired injured in the second set of their fourth-round match on Sunday.

The Spaniard was leading 6-4, 3-0 when Mathieu, who had earlier had treatment on a leg injury, was forced to quit.

"It's a little disappointing because I was playing a great match," Nadal told reporters.

"I felt my best today, but I can't be [that] disappointed because I am in the quarterfinals."

Nadal will face Nieminen next, in the last eight, a player he has beaten all three times they have met.

"Nieminen is very tough, a fighter," Nadal said. "It's going to be an interesting match. I have to continue to play in this way."

Day 6 at the Australian Open was a long, long journey. About one-third of the 15,000 people with tickets for the Saturday night session didn't leave until Hewitt smacked a forehand past Baghdatis at 4:33 a.m. Sunday.

Roger Federer needed 4 hours, 27 minutes to beat 49th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-1, 10-8 in an extended afternoon match that pushed back the night session at least two hours.

Federer had won 30 straight sets at Melbourne Park since dropping the first in the 2006 final against Baghdatis. The Swiss star had lost only six games in his first two matches this year.

"It's not such a relief -- it's more happiness," Federer told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, where he has won the last two Australian titles and three overall. "I'm happy I could deliver a five-set thriller. It was good to be part of something like this."

So when Hewitt tossed the ball up for his first serve it was 11:47 p.m. -- the latest start for a singles match in the Australian Open. He broke Baghdatis on his fifth match point 4:45 later to win 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

"Obviously, an incredible day of tennis," Hewitt said, sounding hoarse and tired. "I mean, for Roger Federer to go five sets -- how often does that happen?"

Hewitt will play No. 3 Novak Djokovic, who ousted Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to leave James Blake as the best U.S. hope at the Open.

Blake rallied from two sets down and then a double-break in the fourth to beat Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean 4-6, 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Next for Blake is the 6-foot-5 Marin Cilic, a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1 winner over last year's losing finalist, Fernando Gonzalez.

Also in fourth-round matches Sunday, Russian No. 4 seed Nikolay Davydenko lost to compatriot No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-1.

Federer said his five-setter would give him a good idea of where he stands as he bids to make an 11th consecutive Grand Slam final. A title would move him within one of Pete Sampras' record 14 majors.

"I don't have them often," said Federer, who needed every one of his personal best 39 aces to fend off Tipsaravic.

Hewitt wasted a match point in the eighth game of the fourth set and ensured he'd pass the record for the latest finishing match at a Grand Slam when he held for a 6-5 lead at 3:34 a.m. -- the same time Italy's Andreas Seppi finished off Bobby Reynolds in a 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3 match in the first round in Australia last year.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.