AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2012
Hewitt, Troicki Earn Late-Night Wins
by ATP Staff|
Former Australian Open finalist Lleyton Hewitt gave the Rod Laver Arena crowd another reason to remember his warrior-like qualities Tuesday night, when he battled back from a 1-5 deficit in the fourth set to beat German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to set up a second round meeting with No. 15 seed Andy Roddick.
On facing Roddick, Hewitt said, "Obviously when the draw came out, I knew that Andy was a possibility. But I haven't played that many matches, so all my focus was on this guy. I knew absolutely nothing about him really going into tonight. It's not quite the case with Andy now. Don't really have to ask around too much to find out what Andy's strengths and weaknesses are."
Hewitt, the 2005 runner-up (l. to Safin), withstood an aggressive performance from 21-year-old Stebe. The 30 year old hit 29 winners and eight aces.
"It was always going to be tough no matter who I played," said Hewitt. "[Stebe's] is a quality player. He's a lot better than his ranking is at the moment. Conditions probably suited him out there.
"You would have seen a lot of the crowd really lifted towards the end of the fourth set there when I started to get back into that set and they could sense that he was getting a little bit tight trying to close it out and going to a fifth as well. Feelings like that you can't buy. Until you're one of the players out there experiencing it, it is a massive adrenaline rush."
Hewitt, currently No. 181 in the South African Airways 2012 ATP Rankings, is competing at the Australian Open for a record 16th time. He now holds the all-time record for most consecutive appearances overtaking Jack Crawford and future Davis Cup captain Happy Hopman, who both played their 15th and final championship in 1940. Hewitt is appearing as a wild card at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 1999 Australian Open.
Viktor Troicki also earned a late-night victory over former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. The No. 19 seed from Serbian recovered from a two-sets-to-love deficit to win 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 in three hours and 47 minutes on Court 18.
Troicki hit as many aces as he did winners (27) past World No. 48 Ferrero, whose best result at Melbourne Park came in 2004 when he lost to Roger Federer in the semi-finals.