Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Relative unknown overcomes Roddick

ROUND 4 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, ranked 54th, did what children often dream of. He defeated one of the top players in the world in a Grand Slam tennis match

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot during her fourth-round match against Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday. Sharapova won the match 6-4, 6-4.

PHOTO: AP

Andy Roddick made an early exit from his second straight Grand Slam, losing 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a fourth-round upset to Marcos Baghdatis at the Australian Open.

Four months after losing in the first round at the US Open, the second-seeded Roddick also failed to make it to the second week at Melbourne Park.

He was unsettled yesterday by the high energy and an unending array of winning shots from 54th-ranked Baghdatis, a 20-year-old former junior world champion from Cyprus.

"I'm just in my own world and playing great tennis," Baghdatis said. "I think it's one of the best matches of my life."

After dropping just one service game in his three previous matches, Roddick was broken once in each of the first, third and fourth sets. Baghdatis had 16 aces, one more than Roddick, and only 26 unforced errors.

Baghdatis, ranked 54th, advanced to a quarterfinal against No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic, who beat 2002 champion Thomas Johansson 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the last night match.

Roddick had 39 winners and 31 unforced errors.

"I didn't play that badly -- plus eight in winners to errors -- I looked and I won more total points," said Roddick. "I think I would have beaten most people today but credit where it's due, he played a very good match."

Roddick won 117 points to Baghdatis' 116, but converted only two of nine breakpoint chances while his rival converted 3 of 10.

"The shots he was able to come up with were very good," said Roddick. "Maybe I was a bit spacey out there. I wasn't totally on top of things."

Earlier, top-ranked Lindsay Davenport set up a quarterfinal match with Justine Henin-Hardenne, overcoming left ankle pain to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4. The eighth-seeded Henin-Hardenne beat Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-0, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova went down a break in the second set before recovering to win six of the last seven games in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchova, who ousted defending champion Serena Williams in the third round.

Sharapova next faces fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, who beat Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-1.

In men's matches, fourth-seeded David Nalbandian reached the quarterfinals, beating Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2, and French veteran Fabrice Santoro overcame No. 11 David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5, 7-5.

The 33-year-old Santoro reached the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time in 54 trips.

With defending champion Marat Safin, second-ranked Rafael Nadal, four-time winner Andre Agassi out because of injuries and No. 3 Lleyton Hewitt ousted in the second round, Roddick was considered the top contender to topple favorite Roger Federer.

But Baghdatis went for everything.

Serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth, Baghdatis smacked consecutive forehand winners and had triple match point when Roddick ripped a backhand return into the net.

Cheered on by dozens of supporters dressed in blue and white clothes and waving Greek and Cypriot flags, Baghdatis ended the match with a crosscourt forehand -- his 63rd winner.

"To have the crowd support -- it's incredible," Baghdatis said.

After the match, Baghdatis raced over to his cheering section and flapped his arms up and down, giving them the OK to let loose.

"They think it's football," he said. "I told them to calm down and no swearing and stuff. It's getting better. It's good for them, good for tennis, good for me."

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