19 Jan 2011

Nalbandian edges Hewitt in marathon

8:45 am on 19 January 2011

A day of pitifully one-sided contests at the Australian tennis Open was ended on a high on Wednesday morning by a see-sawing five-set late night thriller.

After favourites Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters dispatched their opponents with ease and other stars including Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva also cruised through untroubled, it was left to a re-run of the Wimbledon men's final from 2002 to finish the second day with some style.

Recent Auckland finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina rallied to beat Australian Lleyton Hewitt 3-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 9-7 in a four-hour, 48-minute battle of attrition that finished on centre court at just after one o'clock in the morning.

Clijsters doled out the most humiliating punishment, beating fellow former number one Dinara Safina 6-0 6-0 and handing the Russian the unwanted record of becoming the first former women's number one to lose 6-0 6-0 at a grand slam since the rankings system began in 1975.

Others to progress include Auckland champion David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Alize Cornet.

19th-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic's exit in three sets at the hands of Russian Ekaterina Makarova was the day's biggest shock.