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Since 1st March, 1999
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Hewitt, Chela in on-court drama
- Davydenko destroys Henman's hopes

Melbourne: Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela apologised for spitting at Lleyton Hewitt in a spiteful end to the third round at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Hewitt won the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 but the result was overshadowed by the on-court drama as tensions threatened to boil over in the fourth set.

Chela became irritated by Hewitt's antics whenever he won a big point and after the Australian appeared to swear at him, he spat in his direction.

The Argentine later admitted he did spit but said it was not aimed at Hewitt.

However, he said he apologised to Hewitt anyway.

'It was a very tense moment in the match and we sorted it out later in the locker room,' Chela said through a translator. 'I did spit but not in his direction. He thought I did so I apologised to him after the game.'

Hewitt, whose on-court antics also upset his last opponent James Blake, said he was unhappy about the incident but had accepted Chela's apology. 'I've accepted his apology. I don't think it's the right thing... it's not good for the game,' he said.

The drama overshadowed Nikolay Davydenko destroying Tim Henman's Australian Open campaign as the Russians continued their assault on the first grand slam of the year.

Henman surrendered 4-6, 2-6, 2-6 in a little over two hours, allowing Davydenko to join a procession of Russians through to the fourth round in Melbourne.

Six Russians booked their places in the fourth round on Friday and another three joined them on Saturday giving them a total of nine, including seven women, in the last 16.

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina got a free-ride when her American opponent, Lisa Raymond, withdrew from their match with a stomach muscle injury.

'I'm happy to be in the next round but that's not the way you like to win,' Myskina said.

Elena Dementieva, the French and US Open runner-up, wore down Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 in a rollercoaster match that lasted almost three hours and featured 13 service breaks.

Five Americans are through to the fourth round after Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Lindsay Davenport all won in straight sets, joining Friday's winners Andre Agassi and Serena Williams.

Venus beat Israel's Anna Smashnova 6-3, 6-0, second seed Roddick slammed his way past Austrian Juergen Melzer 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 and world No. 1 Davenport defeated Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 6-4.

Argentina were also celebrating after three of their four players advanced. David Nalbandian, Guillermo Coria and Guillermo Canas all won but Chela's loss to Hewitt ruined their perfect day.

While it has been over a quarter of a century since an Australian has won either the men's or women's singles title, the home nation is still in the running for both titles this year after Alicia Molik beat Tatina Panova to join Hewitt in the second week.

'You can't win a Grand Slam in the first week but you can definitely lose it,' Hewitt said. 'I'm through to the second week of the tournament and this is the business end.'

Henman was the biggest casualty on day six of the hardcourt Grand Slam.

The seventh-seeded Briton was an overwhelming favourite to beat Davydenko but failed to mount any real challenge, continuing a history of poor performances at the major tournaments. 'I feel totally gutted,' he said.

Roddick fired 22 aces past Melzer to wrap up victory in just 95 minutes. He will play Philipp Kohlschreiber next after the German beat Jean-Rene Lisnard of France 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. 'I think I got better and better as the match went on,' Roddick said.

Venus, the former world No. 1, romped into the second week in exactly an hour despite making 26 unforced errors against Smashnova.

Looking for her first Grand Slam title since 2001, Venus plays Molik in the next round after the rising Australian beat Panova 6-3, 6-2.

Davenport drew on her wealth of experience to overcome Vaidisova and advance to a meeting with 13th seed Karolina Sprem.

The 28-year-old American top seed was pushed hard by the precociously talented 15-year-old Czech before her greater experience proved crucial as she clinched victory.

Argentina are already assured of at least one player in the quarter finals after Nalbandian and Coria were drawn to play each other in the fourth round.

Nalbandian beat Chile's Olympic doubles champion Fernando Gonzalez 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3, while Coria beat Spain's former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Canas thrashed Czech Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and plays Davydenko next.

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