Andy Roddick outguns Safin
Roddick keeps his head, while Marat Safin and all around him lose theirs, to win the titanic showdown of the third round at the Australian Open.Updated: Jan 19, 2007 19:36 IST
Andy Roddick kept his head while Marat Safin and all around him were losing theirs to win the titanic showdown of the third round at the Australian Open on Friday.
As the Russian raged at the match referee and chair umpire, Roddick, under the watchful eye of coach Jimmy Connors, dismantled his opponent's confidence with a 7-6 2-6 6-4 7-6 win to book a last-16 tie against Croatia's Mario Ancic.
Defending champions Roger Federer and Amelie Mauresmo safely booked their places in round four while two-time former champion Serena Williams staged a remarkable comeback to secure hers.
But the day was all about the showdown between powerhouse Roddick and 2005 champion Safin, who was unable to defend his title last year due to injury.
"When I saw the draw I said, no not me," jubilant sixth seed Roddick said.
"I knew I would have to play well or I'd be going home. This is a tough slam, you come out and get matches like this and to get through a tough one like this is what it's all about".
The quality of the tennis may not have matched the intensity of the pre-match hype, but Roddick's furious chasing, bizarre officiating and Safin's volcanic temper provided a dynamic spectacle on Rod Laver Arena.
Safin scowled at chair umpire Pascal Maria at 1-1 in the fourth set when the French official called a serve long only to have his own decision overturned when the Russian referred the call to Hawk-eye.
He had been stewing since an earlier verbal obscenity warning and while Safin fumed, Roddick won more of the long baseline rallies when it mattered most and quietly watched as the Russian imploded to end his nine-match winning streak at Melbourne Park.
After rain caused a four-hour delay at the start of the day, it was left to Williams and Federer to lifted dampened spirits.
Williams looked dead and buried against fifth seed Nadia Petrova at a set and 5-4 down with the Russian serving for a place in round four.
But the American dug deep for a 1-6 7-5 6-3 victory and a match against red-hot Serb Jelena Jankovic.
She was seen mouthing 'Hi Dad, call me' to the cameras as she celebrated her win and revealed afterwards that it was a plea to her father Richard to get in touch.
"I'm trying to reach my dad, I haven't been able to reach him for a few days. Whenever I call him my number doesn't come up. It's so frustrating."
Federer inflicted technical frustrations of a different sort on Mikhail Youzhny, using the Hawk-eye system he had earlier in the week derided as 'nonsense' to help him pass the Russian 25th seed in straight sets.
At set point in the opener, a Federer serve was called out but the Swiss referred the call to the instant replay technology and the decision was overruled, giving him a 6-3 filip.
A string of disputed calls in the third set left the Swiss bereft of challenges and another decision irked him in the closing stages of a tense tiebreak, but he went to on to seal a fourth-round tie with Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3 7-6.
"I wish I had none (challenges) all the time, nothing has changed," an unforgiving Federer blasted after his eighth straight win over the Russian.
Serb prodigy Djokovic, the 14th seed, dropped his first set of the week when coming through in four against Thailand's Danai Udomchoke, the last Asian representative in the men's draw.
Home hopes suffered in heartbreaking fashion when veteran Wayne Arthurs reacted to a painkilling injection in his leg and was forced to bow out of his third-round match after three games against American Mardy Fish.
Richard Gasquet won the battle of the 20-year-old Frenchmen 6-0 4-6 7-5 6-3 against Gael Monfils and faces seventh seed Tommy Robredo of Spain after his four-set disposal 19-year-old American Sam Querrey.
Czech 20th seed Radek Stepanek will have more time to cheer on fiancee Martina Hingis after he crashed 6-7 4-6 6-0 6-4 6-3 in a marathon three hour 51 minute epic to Spain's David Ferrer.
Ancic booked his fourth-round berth courtesy of a 6-3 6-2 6-1 rout of Slovak 22nd seed Dominik Hrbaty.
Mauresmo happily strolled into a last-16 place against unseeded Czech Lucie Safarova after a 6-3 6-1 win over another Czech, world number 83 Eva Birnerova.
Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova bustled her way through at the expense of fellow Russian and 26th seed Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-4.
First Published: Jan 19, 2007 19:36 IST