Aussies crash out of Open - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies crash out of Open

By Chris Lines 26/01/2004 10:44:58 PM Comments (0)

The fireworks were so close that Lleyton Hewitt could probably smell them, not just hear them.

He knew the people of Melbourne were enjoying their national day, but alas, there would be no such celebrations at the Australian Open.

Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis were eliminated from the Open, ending local involvement in the championship singles.

We should have seen it coming, as having Australia Day coincide with the Open's fourth-round men's matches was tempting a well-established fate.

Since the Australian Open moved to Melbourne Park, there had been 19 matches involving Australian men in the fourth round, but only three times had the local progressed to the quarterfinals.

That poor record was extended, despite the promise with which the day dawned.

An in-form Philippoussis was playing unseeded Moroccan journeyman Hicham Arazi while Hewitt would take on Roger Federer, the Swiss he beat so stirringly in the Davis Cup semifinal and against whom he boasted an 8-2 record.

But an out-of-sorts and frustrated Philippoussis had the ill-fortune to meet Arazi in the form of his life. With scintillating return of serve, the Moroccan swept through 6-2 6-2 6-4 in a mere 105 minutes.

Hewitt looked like finally ushering Australia Day inside the Melbourne Park gates when he took the first set against Federer, as fireworks broke out at nearby Birrarung Mar, and persisted for 15 minutes at a time when the South Australian's game was separating at the seams.

Hewitt lost a set to love for the first time in his grand slam career as Federer gained revenge for that galling Davis Cup defeat, winning 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-4.

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