<
>

Bosom buddies' banter heads Week 1

MELBOURNE, Australia -- If the second week of the Australian Open is as good as the first, we're in for a real treat.

There were marathon encounters, great comebacks and a whole lot of wasted match points. Roger Federer was even pushed to five sets, a rarity.

ESPN.com looks back at the best of Week 1.

Best men's match: David Nalbandian versus Lleyton Hewitt

This one promised much, given the bad blood between the pair. And the end product actually exceeded the hype, no small feat, ending 10-8 in the fifth.

Their dodgy hips toiled for nearly five hours, with the victorious Nalbandian saving two match points in the fourth set, one on an audacious drop half-volley. Earlier in the fourth, the Argentine looked like he was in tank mode. Hewitt, the home hope, went a dismal 7-for-30 on break points.

Nalbandian won the battle but lost the war, "empty" in the ensuing round and retiring when trailing 6-0, 6-1, 2-0 in less than an hour.

Hewitt stuck around and made his commentary debut with host broadcaster Channel 7.

He was downright chirpy, if you can believe it.

Best women's match: Ana Ivanovic versus Ekaterina Makarova

Ivanovic deserves ample credit for saving five match points in three different games. However, Makarova gets more credit for keeping it together despite squandering those chances.

The Russian eventually prevailed 10-8 in the third set of a 2-hour, 47-minute thriller. The players slugged it out from the baseline and took turns fist pumping -- almost after every point deep in the third.

It was the first time in seven attempts that Ivanovic fell at the opening stage in Melbourne.

"Throughout the match I felt like she was getting in a rhythm more and more, and she was hardly making any errors," Ivanovic said.

The glamorous Serb probably paid the price for not being able to practice much the week before the tournament due to an abdominal injury.

Best comeback: Mardy Fish versus Victor Hanescu

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Fish, 29, rallied from two sets down for the first time in his career, triumphing 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 over Romanian Victor Hanescu. Hanescu is a solid pro who usually doesn't give much away, making the comeback more impressive.

Further, the Tampa resident wasn't at 100 percent because of a virus, later diagnosed as a thyroid problem.

Not surprisingly, Fish was downed by gritty Spaniard Tommy Robredo in Round 2.

Best failed comeback: Gilles Simon versus Roger Federer

Simon, previously 2-0 against the Fed, was simply outclassed in the first two sets, which breezed by. Bizarrely and alarmingly, Federer dipped, allowing the affable Frenchman to find his way back into their second-round encounter.

Simon won the third and fourth sets. In the fifth, he looked like the favorite until broken at 2-3, relinquishing a 40-15 advantage. Federer admitted he was "lucky" to escape.

"A match like this can give you a lot of information, and should be very positive in the long run," Federer said. "We'll see how it goes."

Best job at losing from a winning position: Janko Tipsarevic.

Given how Tipsarevic blew it against Fernando Verdasco in the second round, Andy Roddick must be wondering how he lost to the Serb at a Grand Slam -- twice.

Tipsarevic let three match points slip away, all on his serve, in the fourth set. In panic mode, he recklessly approached the net on the first and whiffed at a volley on the second.

Verdasco went on to win 19 straight points as Tipsy threw in the towel, losing 6-0 in the fifth.

Verdasco, who made his breakthrough in Melbourne in 2009, took full advantage of his second chance, crushing exciting Kei Nishikori of Japan to reach the fourth round.

Best competitor: Venus Williams

Yes, Williams retired against Andrea Petkovic in the third round, the first retirement of her storied Grand Slam career. At least she gave it a go.

Williams showed remarkable courage facing Sandra Zahlavova a round earlier, carrying on despite a troublesome groin.

And the crowd wasn't even on her side.

Best media conference: Caroline Wozniacki

Sick and tired of getting criticized for apparently dishing out the same answers, Wozniacki took a unique approach Friday after struggling past Dominika Cibulkova.

She walked into the main interview room, looked down at a sheet of paper and proceeded to discuss the match, her status as the No. 1 and the next round -- without being prompted.

After that was done, Wozniacki opened up the floor for questions -- wanting to get asked something different.

She subsequently discussed baseball, soccer, what she looks for in a guy (honesty, for one), Andy Murray and global warming.

"I'm flying quite a bit, so that doesn't really help," she said, drawing laughter.

Best on-court interview: Kim Clijsters

Todd Woodbridge, the retired doubles standout now working for Channel 7, will probably never send another text message again.

He was oh, so embarrassed by Clijsters on Thursday.

Clijsters got wind of the fact that Woodbridge sent a text to friend and fellow analyst Rennae Stubbs -- saying he thought the Belgian star was pregnant, "looks really grumpy and her boobs are bigger.

She, good-naturedly, broached the delicate matter while being interviewed by the Aussie on the court -- who had nowhere to hide.

"Oh, my goodness, well that's the end of my TV career," Woodbridge said.

Best quote: Andy Roddick

Never at a loss for words, Roddick provided this gem when a French reporter asked him what it was like to be interviewed on court by, not Woodbridge, but Jim Courier, who also does the duties for Channel 7.

"Getting interviewed by Jim is a great experience -- for him," Roddick quipped.

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.