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Hewitt surges home over tiring Baghdatis in epic

sports Updated: Jan 20, 2008 00:08 IST
Hewitt surges home over tiring Baghdatis in epic

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt charged into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a marathon five-set win over former finalist Marcos Baghdatis early on Sunday.

In the latest finish in Grand Slam history, Hewitt won 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in four hours 45 minutes and will now face Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic on Monday.

The match, which started just before midnight, finally ended at 4:33am (1733 GMT).

It eclipsed the previous lastest finish of 3:34am in a first round men's match between Andreas Seppi and Bobby Reynolds at last year's Australian tournament.

"It's one of my best wins mentally to beat him in five sets," Hewitt said.

"It wasn't easy for both of us with the late finish after an incredible day's tennis when Roger Federer was taken so long in his match and it was tough for everybody, but we just tried to put this behind us on court."

The loss ended the 2006 finalist's tournament after he beat former Australian Open champions Thomas Johansson and Marat Safin to reach the third round.

The 19th seeded Hewitt, who lost to Safin in the 2005 final, showed his trademark tenacity to overcome the front-running Baghdatis and live on in the tournament.

There was no discernible crowd reaction to the actions of Baghdatis after he was captured on video chanting anti-Turkish slogans with the Greek supporters' group involved in a clash with police at the Australian Open.

Videos circulating on the Internet, and broadcast here, showed the Greek Cypriot holding a flare and chanting "Turks Out of Cyprus" at a barbeque hosted by the Hellas Fan Club.

Baghdatis broke Hewitt in the ninth game and clinched the opening set on the second of three set points.

The Cypriot was broken in the fourth game, but was broken back in the 10th game after falling behind 0-40.

Baghdatis again fell behind on serve as he attempted to serve for a tiebreaker and a backhand error allowed Hewitt to level the match.

Baghdatis had a major scare in the opening game of the third set when he twisted his right ankle and needed an injury timeout to have the ankle strapped by a trainer to allow him to continue.

But it didn't seem to affect him and he broke Hewitt in the third to control the set until he lost consecutive serves and handed the Australian the lead when he netted a backhand.

Baghdatis' game fell away in the fourth set and his serve was broken in the second game as the momentum swung right behind Hewitt.

Hewitt led 5-1 but was broken twice and was dragged into a tiebreaker which Baghdatis claimed to send the match into a fifth set.

The Australian again went a service break up in the fifth game and clinched victory on his fifth match point.

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