MELBOURNE, Australia – David Nalbandian beat Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 9-7 in the early hours of Wednesday, prolonging the former No. 1-ranked Australian star's long drought at Melbourne Park.
Going into the first-round match at the Australian Open, Hewitt led the head-to-head series 3-2, including a victory in the 2002 Wimbledon final and a quarterfinal here in which the pair bumped into each other on a changeover. Video of that altercation featured prominently on TV promotions.
Hewitt's best run in 15 Australian Opens was reaching the final in 2005. No Australian man has won the Australian Open since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
Nalbandian saved two match points before finishing the 4-hour, 48-minute match with a perfect lob on his first match point.