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Habit worth kicking: David Nalbandian has developed a habit he'd like to kick at this Australian Open. For the second time in three rounds at the season's first major, the 25-year-old Argentine has had to save match points in the third set before advancing in five sets. Nalbandian was trailing Sebastien Grosjean 4-5, 0-40 in the third set Saturday before he came back to win the game, saving three match points to force a tiebreaker. The eighth-seeded Nalbandian, a 2002 Wimbledon finalist and a semifinalist here last year, eventually won 5-7, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the fourth round. "Honestly, I prefer winning in three sets," he said. "It's not that simple. Sometimes matches are more complicated. It's difficult to come back. It's not always you can do that. When you are three match points down, anything can happen. You just miss one or he can play a good point, and that's it."
Trophy hog: Roger Federer is so good that a couple of his U.S. rivals want to team up against him. When fifth-seeded James Blake beat Robby Ginepri 7-6 (7), 7-5, 6-2 in the third round Saturday, the two players, good friends off the court, met at the net and joked about a shared goal. "He said to me, 'Let's get a Grand Slam,' " Blake said. "Roger has been hoarding them all in Switzerland. We'd like to get one back in the States. That means a lot to me that he really thinks of us as a team." Blake, who had a career-best season in 2006 with five ATP finals and a quarterfinals appearance in the U.S. Open, only could face the top-seeded Federer in the final if both players win through their sides of the draw. Blake plays Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the fourth round, while Federer faces Serbian Novak Djokovic.
Davis Cup? Nyet: Nikolay Davydenko, top ranked among Russians, won't be going to Chile for the Davis Cup next month and is not saying why. The Ukrainian-born No. 3 Davydenko, who played a key part in winning the trophy for his adopted country last year, was prickly Saturday when asked about the first-round clay-court tie scheduled for Feb. 9-11. "I don't play Davis Cup," Davydenko said after advancing Saturday to the fourth round with a 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-2 win over Fabrice Santoro. "No questions about Davis Cup."
Adrenaline junkie: Maria Sharapova's offseason had a few of the usual things: A couple of sponsor commitments, a few days lying on the beach -- and a swing through the jungle at the end of a rope. She spent 10 days at a resort in Costa Rica before coming to the Australian Open, and took a wilderness tour that included flying "400 meters in the air, going 40 mph, on a skinny little rope," she says on her Web site. "It's so fun, so surreal, you're on a different planet when you do those kind of things," Sharapova said Saturday after advancing to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Italy's Tathiana Garbin. "I love to get an adrenaline rush," she said. "There is only so much sitting on the beach you can do."
Associated Press
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