Hewitt triumphs in mean-tempered match

Associated Press

Melbourne, January 22:

Tensions boiled over at the Australian Open during Lleyton Hewitt’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 third-round victory over Juan Ignacio Chela, who appeared to spit at him in anger over the third-seeded player’s shouts and gestures.

It was the second straight match that an opponent had clearly become upset at Hewitt, known for his extreme intensity that some opponents have interpreted as gamesmanship. Hewitt’s actions, which also got the partisan crowd roaring, clearly upset Chela as he served at 2-2 in the fourth set. After Hewitt set up triple break point, he did one of his trademark bellows of “Come on!” while pointing his fingers at his forehead.

Despite the score, Chela slammed a first serve that nearly hit Hewitt without bouncing. Hewitt finished off the break, then appeared to swear at Chela during the changeover. Chela then spat, with TV cameras and photographers capturing the incident. “He spat in my direction,” Hewitt said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing.”

Hewitt next faces Spain’s Rafael Nadal who ousted American qualifier Bobby Reynolds 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Earlier, second-ranked Andy Roddick’s aces had the crowd buzzing as he rode his big serve into the fourth round. Pounding the ball better as the match went on, Roddick dropped only seven points in his last 10 service games and finished with 22 aces to oust Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

Seventh-seeded Tim Henman had his own stunning shot, a reflex volley behind his back into an open court. But it was the only highlight for the Briton who made at least the quarter-finals in the last three Grand Slams. He committed 32 unforced errors and five double-faults in falling to 26th-seeded Nicolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Davydenko, who joined fellow Russian Marat Safin in the last 16 men, next faces 12th-seeded Guillermo Canas, a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 winner over Radek Stepanek. French Open finalist Guillermo Coria beat former top-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. French Open champion Anastasia Myskina joined Russia’s two other Grand Slam title holders in the fourth round when American Lisa Raymond withdrew with a torn abdominal muscle. Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport beat 15-year-old Czech qualifier Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 6-4 to move into a fourth-round match against 13th-seeded Karolina Sprem, who ousted Russia’s Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva became the seventh Russian woman to advance when she outlasted Daniela Hantuchova, who committed 78 unforced errors and bloodied her knee in a fall in the second set, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. She next meets No 12 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, a 7-6, 6-3 winner over American Amanda Spears.

Venus Williams overcame a rash of early errors to win the last nine games in a one-hour, 6-3, 6-0 rout of Anna Smashnova. Tenth-seeded Alicia Molik closed a 6-3, 6-2 win over Tatiana Panova with an ace, advancing to face Williams.