Hewitt Wins in 5, Federer Breezes at Oz Open

Posted on January 17, 2006

No. 3 seed Lleyton Hewitt was almost bundled out of his home slam in the opening round Tuesday at the Australian Open, coming from 1-2 sets down to defeat unheralded Czech Robin Vik 6-4, 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 for a berth in the second round.

Vik nervously failed to serve out the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, dropping the game at love.

"There was a lot of long rallies from the baseline, we are both not big servers so there was not a lot of cheap points," Hewitt said. "But that's what you do your off-season work for and hopefully it is going to pay off over the next couple of weeks."

World No. 1 Roger Federer, who some in Australia have mysteriously pegged to be challenged by Hewitt, rolled over Uzbek wildcard Denis Istomin in his opener 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

"I thought it was not easy today because he was serving big, taking a lot of chances on my return," Federer said. "So we didn't see too many rallies, which didn't really allow me to get the rhythm going. I guess I still believe it was a good match. I won comfortably. That's what counts most."

A more viable test for Federer down the road could come from an unseeded player, former No. 2-ranked German Tommy Haas who easily controlled No. 14 seed Richard "Baby Fed" Gasquet in a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory.

"The first time we played against each other, so it's always tough," Haas said of the French teen who plays like a pre-No. 1 version of Federer. "I think you're trying to figure out each other's game in the beginning a little bit. I think it was quite important for both of us to see who will get the early break or maybe the first set to kind of get some confidence. I think in the second it was very important, I think he got away with a break, he started to feel more comfortable. Somehow I broke him back, played some good tennis to break him for the second set."

Other seeds struggling mightily into the second round Tuesday were (5) Nikolay Davydenko (d. Karlovic in five), (6) Guillermo Coria (d. Hanescu 6-1 in the fifth), (12) Dominik Hrbaty (d. Marach in five), (21) Nicolas Kiefer (d. Srichaphan from 0-2 sets down), and (30) Max Mirnyi (d. Ascione 6-0 in the fifth).

Seeded winners in straight sets were (15) Juan Carlos Ferrero (d. Zib), (23) Igor Andreev (d. Almagro), (24) Olivier Rochus (d. Llodra), (25) Sebastien Grosjean (d. Philippoussis), and (28) Fernando Verdasco (d. Carlsen).

Upset-makers on Tuesday were American Alex Bogomolov Jr., outlasting (9) Fernando Gonzalez 7-5 in the fifth; Peru's Luis Horna shocking (22) Gael Monfils in straights; and 25-year-old Aussie Nathan Healey advancing when (29) Filippo Volandri retired down two sets with injury.

The slew of other un-seeds into the second round were Americans Kevin Kim (d. Levy, bagel in the third), Amer Delic (d. Starace in five) and Paul Goldstein (d. Djokoic in four), Belgians Dick Norman (d. Fleishman in five) and Kristof Vliegen (d. C.Rochus), Argentines Juan Ignacio Chela (d. Murray) and Juan Monaco (d. Lisnard in four), Aussie Peter Luczak (d. Minar), Dutchman Raemon Sluiter (d. Snobel in four), Germans Florian Mayer (d. H.-T. Lee in four) and Bjorn Phau (d. Berlocq in four), Italians Davide Sanguinetti (d. Adaktusson) and Federico Luzzi (d. Marin), Serbs Janko Tipsarevic (d. Seppi in five) and Boris Pashanski (d. Arthurs in four), and Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu (d. countryman Clement).

Murray admittedly played too aggressively in getting rolled in straight sets by Chela, then the Brit-Scot got contentious with the media.

"You don't think there's any pressure on me?" Murray said. "Well, if you don't think that, then I'm obviously going to disagree on something. If you guys don't think you're putting pressure on me, then that's fine. I'll forget about it. It wasn't my best day. But you can't play well every single day. You know, it's the first time I've been easily beaten since I've been on the tour...When you're this young it's difficult to stay consistent all the time...If you guys expect me to play well every single match and every single tournament then it's not going to happen."

Scheduled for Wednesday are (7) Ljubicic vs. Kohlschreiber, (2) Roddick vs. Moodie, (4) Nalbandian vs. Wawrinka, (18) Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic vs. Hernych, (20) Blake vs. Faurel, (13) Ginepri vs. Gremelmayr, (19) Berdych vs. Simon, (10) T.Johansson vs. Xavier "X-Man" Malisse, (17) Stepanek vs. Marcos "Bombs Over" Baghdatis, (16) Robredo vs. Tursunov, (8) Gaudio vs. Burgsmuller, (31) Feliciano "F-Lo" Lopez vs. Muller in an all-lefty battle, (11) Ferrer vs. Daniele "Choppin'" Bracciali, (26) Nieminen vs. Y.-T. Wang, Guillermo "G-Lo" Garcia-Lopez vs. Julien "United Colors of" Benneteau, and Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro vs. Pavel.