Melbourne – Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic dug deep to dump Australian warhorse Lleyton Hewitt out in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.
Eighth-seeded Tipsarevic out-fought the tenacious Hewitt 7-6
(7/4), 7-5, 6-3 in just over three hours to advance in the year-opening Grand Slam.
Hewitt, ranked 81 and playing in a record 17th consecutive Australian Open, fought to the bitter end but Tipsarevic unleashed a flurry of winners to seal the victory.
Tipsarevic, who dreaded the prospect of playing crowd hero Hewitt at night on the opening day of the tournament, came through impressively.
The Serb reeled off 47 winners, some that brought gasps from the pro-Hewitt crowd, and made 38 unforced errors, while never-say-die Hewitt conceded more errors than winners, 48-40.
Tipsarevic, who has never got beyond the third round in eight attempts in Melbourne, will next play Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in the second round, while Hewitt contemplates whether to come back for an 18th tilt at the age of 32.
Former US Open and Wimbledon champion Hewitt lost the opening set in a tiebreaker but was up a break at 5-3 in the second set before Tipsarevic clawed his way back to break twice and take a two sets to love lead.
Tipsarevic looked to be steaming towards victory with a 3-0 lead in the third set only for Hewitt to break back to get the crowd roaring him on. But the Serb broke again in the seventh game and served out for the match. – Sapa-AFP