It was almost 3 a.m. by the time Rockville native Paul Goldstein left Melbourne Park early this morning, sweaty and exhausted, munching on a banana to give him enough strength just to make it back to his hotel room. He had just lost his first-round match at the Australian Open in a marathon four-setter with local favorite Lleyton Hewitt, and he had to be back at the tennis complex in less than 10 hours to play a doubles match.
Still, seeing through his disappointment and his exhaustion, Goldstein remained positive, realizing how well he had played in the 6-2, 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory for Hewitt, who has yet to lose a match this season.
"I didn't play very well in the first set, but then after that I thought I played extraordinarily well," Goldstein said. "I came up with a lot of great shots, but he came up with more answers than I could.
"I was a bit unlucky to catch a guy on such a roll."
Hewitt is certainly on a hot streak, leading the ATP Tour's new championship race after winning the first two tournaments of the year. At the beginning of Tuesday night's match, it appeared that the 18-year-old Australian would roll just as easily against Goldstein, but Goldstein was able to fight back in the second set, entrancing the crowd with his diving shots and his gritty play.
Both players were serving extremely well, but when the third set came down to a tiebreaker, it was Goldstein who finally faltered on his own serve. It was a tiny opening, and Hewitt jumped through it, turning the momentum of the match.
Goldstein fought back again in the fourth set, making up for an early lost break, but in the end he could not match Hewitt. He called for a trainer to rub out a leg cramp midway through the set, and by the time he knocked a ball into the net on the final point, he looked spent.
He wasn't the only one.
"That was a grind, a very long match," Hewitt said. "I came out and got away to a good start, but to his credit he lifted his game a couple of notches, and I think we played some great tennis from there on."
You Never Know With Goran
Goran Ivanisevic is hoping his 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 9-7 upset of 13th-seeded Cedric Pioline is the start of a strong run here, something he could use after a disastrous 1999 season.
"At the start of last year I pulled out [of the Australian Open] because I hurt my back," he said. "Then I came back and lost a couple of matches badly. I was just losing. Every week it was worse and worse.
"It's tough when you lose five, six weeks in the first round. You lose Monday, you practice to Sunday, you lose Monday, you practice until Sunday. A few weeks, and you go crazy. You hope you will be better, but when Monday comes you can't put a ball in the court.
After the match, Pioline predicted that Ivanisevic could go far in this tournament because the conditions suit his big serve--then again, Pioline said, he might not.
"You never know with Goran," he said. "Tomorrow he could lose to his mother, or he could go to a final. There's no logic with Goran."
Ivanisevic replied: "Not to my mom, she never played tennis, but I can lose to some pretty bad guys. . . . I can do well, but I can also lose."