Lleyton Hewitt is not everybody's cup of tea, but for some reason the Argentinians find him particularly disagreeable. Relations were poisonous at the Davis Cup quarter-final in July, and at last year's Australian Open Juan Ignacio Chela was fined for spitting in Hewitt's direction at a change of ends during the home hero's victory.
Naturally, the second-round tie between the pair at Melbourne Park last night was billed as a grudge match; the Herald-Sun tabloid headlined its preview "Rocky v the spitter".
Hewitt, the No 3 seed and local hero who used to psyche himself up by watching Rocky movies, was the clear favourite. It was the unseeded Chela, though, who left Rod Laver Arena pumping his fist. He might have won in straight sets; instead he saved five set points during a third-set tie-break before defeating the Australian 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. He described it as " the biggest win of my career".
Hewitt usually has a reason for performing below expectations, and at his post-match press conference he repeated a now familiar attack on the Rebound Ace surface. "Mate, it could be slower than the French Open," he said, wondering aloud - in a reference to the tournament organisers - when "some of these people are going to wake up to themselves".
The former Wimbledon and US Open champion was treated for a foot injury, but by that point he was already two sets down. He usually summons his fighting spirit to recover, even if it takes five sets, but last night Hewitt was strangely subdued and made 62 unforced errors, compared with Chela's 34. The Australian press will no doubt question whether he still has fire in his belly, following his recent marriage to the soap opera actress Bec Cartwright and the birth of their daughter, Mia. But Hewitt rarely shines at his home Grand Slam - despite competing for 10 years he has only once progressed beyond the fourth round.
Last night's 3hr 23min match took its toll on Chela, with the world No 51 treated for cramp in the fourth set, his movement plainly impeded.
Chela - who trounced Britain's Andrew Murray in the first round - exchanged breaks of serve with Hewitt in the first and second sets, prevailing thanks to a string of errors by the Australian. He clawed his way back up from 5-1 down in the tie-break, levelling at 6-6 before Hewitt won it 10-8. The match did not feature any of the fireworks of the pair's last encounter, when Chela was apparently infuriated by Hewitt's fist-pumping. Nor was it infected by the nastiness of the Davis Cup tie in Sydney, when Hewitt accused Guillermo Coria of grabbing his groin constantly during their match and Coria said he felt like "killing" him for cheering his opponent's mistakes.
Coria, the No 6 seed, joins Chela in the third round, along with top seed Roger Federer, and the No 5, Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.
In the women's draw, Martina Hingis continued her impressive comeback campaign, defeating Finland's Emma Laine 6-1, 6-1. The five-times Grand Slam champion would have met Mary Pierce in the third round, but the No 5 seed was beaten by Iveta Benesova, of the Czech Republic, yesterday and Hingis's half of the draw looks relatively trouble-free.
* Two days after losing in the first-round singles of the Australian Open, Andy Murray suffered a similar fate in the doubles with his Serbian partner Novak Djokovic. The Scot - who has sounded out Tim Henman for advice on how to cope with the strains of being Britain's big hope for Wimbledon - and Djokovic lost 7-6, 6-3 to Fabrice Santoro, of France, and Djokovic's compatriot Nenad Zimonjic.
Australian Open results
SECOND ROUND: R FEDERER (Swit) bt F Mayer (Ger) 6-1 6-4 6-0; M MIRNYI (Bela) bt D Sanguinetti (It) 7-5 6-3 4-6 7-6; P Luczak (Aus) bt O ROCHUS (Bel) 6-7 6-4 6-1 6-7 6-1; T Haas (Ger) bt P Goldstein (US) 6-0 6-1 6-2; D Hrbaty (Slovak) bt D Norman (Bel) 6-2 7-5 5-7 4-6 10-8; I ANDREEV (Rus) bt R Sluiter (Neth) 3-6 6-3 7-6 2-6 6-2; N Healey (Aus) bt A Delic (US) 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-4; N DAVYDENKO (Rus) bt K Kim (US) 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2; J I Chela (Arg) bt L HEWITT (Aus) 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-2; K Vilegen (Bel) bt F VERDASCO (Sp) 3-6 6-2 7-6 7-5; N KIEFER (Ger) bt B Pashanski (Serb-M) 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-1; J C FERRERO (Sp) bt J Tipsarevic (Serb-M) 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-2; P-H Mathieu (Fr) bt A Bogomolov jnr (US) 6-0 7-6 6-2; L Horna (Peru) bt B Phau (Ger) 6-3 6-2 6-1; S GROSJEAN (Fr) bt J Monaco (Arg) 6-4 6-3 6-3; G CORIA (Arg) bt F Luzzi (It) 7-6 6-4 6-3.
SECOND ROUND: P SCHNYDER (Swit) bt S Asagoe (Japan) 6-1 7-6; A Nakamura (Japan) bt G DULKO (Arg) 6-1 6-1; S Arvidsson (Swe) bt D SAFINA (Rus) 6-4 6-0; A MYSKINA (Rus) bt J Jackson (US) 7-6 0-6 6-3; N VAIDISOVA (Cz Rep) bt A Chakvetadze (Rus) 6-2 6-1; F PENNETTA (It) bt M Sucha (Slovak) 6-3 6-0; M Krajicek (Neth) bt S MIRZA (Ind) 6-3 7-5; A MAURESMO (Fr) bt E Loit (Fr) 7-6 6-2; I Benesova (Cz Rep) bt M PIERCE (Fr) 6-3 7-5; M Hingis (Swit) bt E Laine (Fin) 6-1 6-1; S Stosur (Aus) bt A IVANOVIC (Serb-M) 6-3 7-5; S Bammer (Aut) bt Zi Yan (Ch) 6-3 6-4; F SCHIAVONE (It) bt C Castano (Col) 6-1 4-6 6-3; M A Sanchez-Lorenzo (Sp) bt A-L GRONEFELD (Ger) 4-6 6-4 6-1; R Vinci (It) bt M BARTOLI (Fr) 6-4 3-6 6-3; K CLIJSTERS (Bel) bt Meng Yuan (Ch) 6-4 6-2.
FIRST ROUND: B BRYAN and M BRYAN (US) bt V Hanescu and A Pavel (Rom) 6-1 6-4; J KERR (Aus) and T PARROTT (US) bt G Etlis (Arg) and R Ram (US) 7-5 6-7 6-4; J Hernych (Cz Rep) and I Karlovic (Croa) bt W ARTHURS and S HUSS (Aus) 7-6 6-4; R Lindstedt (Swe) and J Nieminen (Fin) bt T Cibulec and P Pala (Cz Rep) 6-1 4-6 6-1; P Baccanello and R Smeets (Aus) bt R Ginepri and B Reynolds (US) 6-4 7-6; P HANLEY (Aus) and K ULLYETT (Zim) bt R Vik and T Zib (Cz Rep) 6-3 3-6 6-1; I Minar and J Vanek (Cz Rep) bt S Kadir and T Reid (Aus) 6-2 1-6 7-5; T BERDYCH and C SUK (Cz Rep) bt T Ascione and F Serra (Fr) 6-0 3-6 6-3; X Malisse and O Rochus (Bel) bt T Behrend (Ger) and M Daniel (Br) 2-6 6-3 6-3; D Ferrer and F Vicente (Sp) bt J Benneteau and N Mahut (Fr) 4-6 6-3 7-6; F SANTORO (Fr) and N ZIMONJIC (Serb-M) bt N Djokovic (Serb-M) and A Murray (GB) 7-6 6-3; F Lopez and F Verdasco (Sp) bt S Iwabuchi and T Suzuki (Japan) 7-6 7-6; F CERMAK and L FRIEDL (Cz Rep) bt R Schüttler and A Waske (Ger) 7-5 6-2; C Rochus (Bel) and S Wawrinka (Swit) bt C Berlocq and A Calleri (Arg) 6-7 7-6 6-4; L Dlouhy and P Vizner (Cz Rep) bt L Bourgeois and R Junaid (Aus) 7-5 6-3; M BHUPATHI (Ind) and W MOODIE (SA) bt D Bracciali (It) and O Marach (Aut) 7-5 6-3; J BJORKMAN (Swe) and M MIRNYI (Bela) bt M Kohlmann (Ger) and G Muller (Lux) 7-5 6-7 7-6.
FIRST ROUND: G DULKO (Arg) and M KIRILENKO (Rus) bt D Randriantefy (Madag) and A Smashnova (Isr) 6-2 6-2; D HANTUCHOVA (Slovak) and A SUGIYAMA (Japan) bt B Strycova and N Vaidisova (Cz Rep) 7-5 6-3; E LIKHOVTSEVA and V ZVONAREVA (Rus) bt B Sekulovski and C Watson (Aus) 6-2 6-3; A MYSKINA and D SAFINA (Rus) bt E Bychkova (Rus) and Z Ondraskova (Cz Rep) 6-4 6-3; E LOIT (Fr) and N PRATT (Aus) bt A Chakvetadze and E Vesnina (Rus) 6-3 0-6 6-1; S Ferguson and C Wheeler (Aus) bt J Schruff and J Wöhr (Ger) 7-5 6-3; E DEMENTIEVA (Rus) and F Pennetta (It) bt L Granville and A Spears (US) 6-7 7-5 6-0; M E Camerin and T Garbin (It) bt K Koukalova and L Safarova (Cz Rep) 6-2 6-2; ZI YAN and JIE ZHENG (Ch) bt E Linetskaya and G Voskoboeva (Rus) 6-1 6-0; S KUZNETSOVA (Rus) and A MAURESMO (Fr) bt S Mirza (Ind) and C Morariu (US) 6-2 6-1; V RUANO PASCUAL (Sp) and P SUAREZ (Arg) bt V Dushevina (Rus) and S Peer (Isr) 6-4 7-5; E Gagliardi (Swit) and K Sprem (Croa) bt T Krizan (Sloven) and J Russell (US) 6-3 3-6 6-2; S ASAGOE (Japan) and K SREBOTNIK (Sloven) bt D Chladkova (Cz Rep) and V Razzano (Fr) 6-2 6-2; N Dechy and T Golovin (Fr) bt J Jankovic (Serb-M) and S Talaja (Croa) 1-6 6-3 6-3.
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