Hewitt's personality shows in opener
ESPN.com news services
MELBOURNE, Australia -- No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt was stretched to five sets and also let off steam, arguing close line calls throughout his 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-2 first-round victory over Swedish qualifier Magnus Larsson at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
In the fourth set, Larsson pounded Hewitt with a string of unplayable forehands, frustrating the young Australian, forcing errors and winning it -- with his 18th forehand winner -- in a tiebreaker.
Hewitt, who breezed through the first set in 28 minutes and dropped serve only once throughout, finished it in 3 hours, 13 minutes with a backhand down the line.
No Australian has won the Grand Slam on home soil since 1976 and Hewitt has never gone beyond the fourth round. He went out in the first round last year, suffering with from a bout of chickenpox.
"I'm feeling a lot of relief after last year," said Hewitt, the reigning Wimbledon champion. "I think the sour taste that was left after last year, I could come out here and get rid of it. I'm going to get better from here."
He had 46 winners and 36 unforced errors, while Larsson produced 41 winners and 61 unforced errors.
Andy Roddick held on for a 6-7 (9), 6-2, 7-6 (0) 6-3 victory over Zeljko Krajan of Croatia. Roddick led 4-1 in the first set before losing it and trailed 1-4 in the third before winning that set.
Serving for the match, he fired his 19th ace, put away an overhead and got match point with a big service winner. The 20-year-old American, seeded ninth, won with a forehand down the line.
Men's third seed and 2002 finalist Marat Safin of Russia put his sore shoulder to the test in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Raemon Sluiter of the Netherlands.
Safin withdrew last week from the quarterfinals at Sydney because he was unable to serve at full strength. However, he received treatment over the weekend and declared himself fit after practicing Sunday.
"I'm taking care of it," Safin said. "I'm taking some anti-inflammatories, Vioxx, but it's OK. The pain is going away. It's much better, much better. Like next match, I think will be perfect then."
Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian moved quickly into the second round when France's Jerome Golmard quit after three sets with a back injury.
Nalbandian led 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 before the withdrawal by Golmard, who also hurt his back in a tournament in India at the end of last year.
"I felt really good in the second and third sets,'' said Nalbandian, who had only three unforced errors in the third.
He advanced 35 places in the rankings last year, to No. 12, after reaching the Wimbledon final in his first professional grass court tournament. Hewitt beat him easily for the trophy, however.
"Before Wimbledon, nobody knew me. After, everybody watches me," said the 21-year-old Argentinian, who is seeded 10th here.
No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over France's Julien Varlet.
Last year's semifinalist, No. 7 Jiri Novak, overcame American Vincent Spadea and No. 20 Xavier Malisse of Belgium defeated Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Feliciano Lopez ousted fellow Spaniard Alex Corretja, seeded 15th, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (9), 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Dutchman Richard Krajicek, the 1996 Wimbledon champion, beat Australian wild-card Todd Reid 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, and No. 23 James Blake, a teammate of Serena Williams on the U.S. team that won the Hopman Cup earlier this month, beat Jiri Vanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4.
Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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