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Nalbandian ousted by Ferrero; Hewitt outlasts Baghdatis
January 20, 2008 08:47 IST
Last Updated: January 20, 2008 09:30 IST
Argentina's David Nalbandian joined the list of top seeds knocked out of the Australian Open third round when he suffered a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 loss at the hands of former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero on Sunday.
Nalbandian, who had suffered muscle spasms in his back the week prior to the tournament, was continually harassed by the Spanish baseliner, chasing down virtually every shot the 10th-seed attempted.
Ferrero, a finalist in Auckland last week, converted six of his 10 break opportunities and gave Nalbandian one chance, which he was unable to convert.
The match had been postponed from Saturday due to rain and the delay seemed to have hampered the Argentine, who followed women's second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze [Images] as third round casualties.
Late Friday night, the sport's ultimate fighter Lleyton Hewitt [Images] followed Roger Federer's lead and donned the gloves to floor 15th seed Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3 in the latest finish of a singles match in Grand Slam history.
It was 4:33 am by the time the Australian slammed a forehand return winner into the corner after four hours 45 minutes of see-saw action.
"I am just happy to get through," Hewitt sighed. "It wasn't easy for either of us. For Federer to go so long... all the people waiting outside... yeah, it was tough for everyone."
Nothing could separate former world number one Hewitt and 2006 runner-up Baghdatis as they went toe-to-toe on centre court.
Hewitt looked as though he had done enough when he soared into a fourth-set lead but blew a 5-1 lead and a match point at 5-2.
Baghdatis ran out of steam in the fifth, however, allowing Hewitt to record a remarkable victory to line up a meeting with third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia.