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AUSTRALIAN OPEN Spitting incident mars match



Published: Sat, January 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt advances to the fourth round.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Lleyton Hewitt beat Juan Ignacio Chela in an Australian Open match full of spit and venom.

Chela became angry Saturday when he thought Hewitt's loud cry of "Come on!" was a bit too much celebration for an unforced error that resulted in triple break point in the fifth game of the fourth set.

He drove his next serve at Hewitt, even though this was a critical part of the match. Hewitt converted the break and Chela spat in Hewitt's direction when the players were switching sides.

"It's unfortunate because we were having a dogfight match out there," said Hewitt, who won the third-round match 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. "We're both competitive blokes; we were going for it.

"It's sad that something like that happens. But, you know, he apologized to me at the net when we shook hands and I said, 'Just forget about it, mate.' "

Spit under review

Chela said he didn't spit at Hewitt. As for the serve Hewitt had to dodge, the Argentine said he couldn't remember anything about it.

"It was a very tense moment in the match," Chela said. "There was a lot of pressure. He thought I spat at him. I felt bad. At the end of the match, I went up to him to apologize."

Tournament referee Peter Bellinger will review tape of match and comments from both players, the International Tennis Federation said.

The third-seeded Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion, finished his night match soon after his next opponent, Rafael Nadal, ousted American qualifier Bobby Reynolds 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Reynolds, ranked 283rd, had never won a match in the top tier and traveled to Australia only because he couldn't get a visa to enter Brazil for a Challenger event.

Andy Roddick, seeded second, was composed in his third-round 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Austria's Jurgen Mezler, seeded 32nd. Roddick slammed 22 aces and lost just seven points in his last 10 service games.

His back-to-the-net, between-the-legs passing shot winner after chasing a lob in the first set demonstrated his mix of power and flair. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, attempted a similar shot later and it failed.

Henman's anguish

Seventh-seeded Tim Henman challenged Roddick for the shot of the day with a volley behind his back for a winner against Nicolay Davydenko. But that highlight was about it for Henman. He committed 32 unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 loss.

"I feel totally gutted," said Henman, who reached at least the quarterfinals the past three majors.

Davydenko, who joined Russian countryman Marat Safin in the round of 16, next faces 12th-seeded Guillermo Canas, who downed Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Canas is one of three Argentine men to advance. Joining him are French Open finalist Guillermo Coria, who ousted Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 and next faces compatriot David Nalbandian, who is seeded ninth.

Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport beat 15-year-old Czech qualifier Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 6-4 and next plays 13th-seeded Karolina Sprem, who beat Russia's Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva, losing finalist at the last French and U.S. Opens, was the last of the Russian woman to advance when she outlasted Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. She next meets No. 12 Patty Schnyder, a 7-6 (4), 6-3 winner over American Abigail Spears.

No. 8 Venus Williams won the last nine games in a 6-3, 6-0 rout of Anna Smashnova and will face No. 10 Alicia Molik, who ended a 6-3, 6-2 win over Tatiana Panova with an ace.




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