Hewitt, the feisty Aussie who had then got the better of Nalbandian, on Jan 19 stood at the other end of the spectrum. It was as if the old father Time saying, that between them there was hardly anything to differentiate. Every contest has to give a winner and if it was Hewitt then ,it is Nalbandian now. Almost everything was unchanged, save for the time, the occasion and eventually the victor. If Nalbandian didn't deserve to lose then, so did Hewitt now. But then one had to win and he who just clinged on for that little extra time, did.
The Aussie started with typical belligerence, serving efficiently and strongly from the baseline. Nalbandian, who too is in the midst of a good run, fought back to clinch the second set but only to see Hewitt digging deep to pocket the third set.
Nalbandian, known for his street-fighter like instincts, hung on. He fought and fought hard to win the fourth set. As an inevitable fifth set started, a sense of deja vu descended upon the packed house. Both players hung on, as if they were playing for their lives. More than a test of skills it was turning out to be a scrutiny of patience, resilience and stamina. Both men fared incredibly well, before Nalbandian won by a threads margin.
The scoreline tells it all. Nalbandian won 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1), 9-7. The match was fought to the wires and irrespective of the outcome, both men managed to steal the show for producing an encounter that could be stashed alongside the very best.
Nalbandian who will now play Ricardas Berankis in the next round, said, "It was a very tough first round we both know it, every time we play it's long matches, tough ones, he's a real fighter." Well said David. Both of them are real fighters and this encounter will always go down as a stuff of the legends.