Hewitt heads Aussie six into next round - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hewitt heads Aussie six into next round

By Guy Hand 17/01/2007 05:56:20 AM Comments (0)

Six Australians are through to the Australian Open second round, with Lleyton Hewitt producing yet another against-the-odds comeback to lead the way.

For only the third time in his career, Hewitt fought back from two sets down to keep his home grand slam dream alive at Melbourne Park in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Trailing by a service break early in the third set, Hewitt stood on the brink of an inglorious first-round defeat before rallying to a 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 triumph over American qualifier Michael Russell.

Despite having played just one-and-a-half matches in four months, losing long-time coach Roger Rasheed after a bitter spat in Adelaide two weeks ago and battling a calf muscle injury, Hewitt called on all his fighting qualities to get past Russell on Rod Laver Arena.

"I was expecting a terrier-like match out there and that's what we got," Hewitt said.

"I just kept fighting, hanging in there.

"I would have liked it a bit easier but I rate my mental toughness obviously and what I did here two years ago and playing in front of such great people in Melbourne.

"Physically, I felt stronger and stronger as the match went on."

He will play Canadian Frank Dancevic on Thursday for a place in the last 32.

Unlike most previous Opens, Hewitt will have plenty of Aussie back-up beyond the opening two days.

Hewitt joins veteran Wayne Arthurs and little-known Queenslander Robert Smeets in the men's singles second round, while Samantha Stosur and Alicia Molik had first round wins on Tuesday night to join Sydney battler Monique Adamczak in the women's draw.

Peter Luczak, Sophie Ferguson and Nicole Pratt were all first round casualties after the majority of matches were delayed for up to eight hours by extreme heat during the day.

Luczak eventually bowed out in the early hours of Wednesday morning, losing his heat-delayed five-setter to American Alex Kuznetsov 6-4 5-7 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-4 after leading two sets to one.

Earlier in the evening Ferguson lost to Croatian Jelena Kostanic Tosic 7-5 6-3, while Pratt was beaten 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 6-0 by France's Virginie Razzano.

Arthurs will be looking to further delay his Australian Open swansong when he takes on American Zack Fleishman.

And Adamczak has been given the opening match on Rod Laver Arena against No.3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

In other second round matches, men's top seed Roger Federer takes on dangerous veteran Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden on centre court, while women's second seed Amelie Mauresmo plays a night match against Olga Poutchkova of Russia.

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