Lleyton Hewitt pulled off a stunning five-set win over Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open after a classic late-night thriller between the two former champions on Friday.
Twelve years after he upset Pete Sampras to win the US Open, the 32-year-old Hewitt showed he still has plenty of fight left in him as he floored del Potro 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 in a four-hour slugfest at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I don’t know how many years I have left in me so I was just hanging to get back on this court again,” said Hewitt, who also won Wimbledon in 2002 but has not tasted Grand Slam success since and tumbled to 66th in the world rankings.
“This is why I still play, to have moments like this.”
del Potro became the biggest casualty of this year’s championship, leaving the top half of the draw seemingly at the mercy of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who both overcame wobbles to win on Friday.
Murray experienced a minor hiccup, dropping his first set of the tournament, but recovered quickly to beat Argentine baseliner Leonardo Mayer 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Djokovic kept his perfect record intact after surviving an early test from Germany’s Benjamin Becker on a baking hot day at Flushing Meadows.
The world No. 1 saved two set points in the opening set before rebounding to win 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 and advance to the next round against Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
It was end of US Open campaign for Somdev Devvarman and Mahesh Bhupathi after they lost their respective hard-fought matches even as Rohan Bopanna had a mixed day. Somdev, who had qualified for the singles main draw, battled hard for two hours 40 minutes before losing 6-7(8), 4-6, 5-7 to Italian 20th seed Andreas Seppi.
Bhupathi, partnering comeback girl Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles event, lost 6-7(5), 6-7(5) to Robert Lindstedt and Yung-Jan Chan in the first round.
Bopanna had sweet-sour day as he advanced in the men’s doubles but suffered a shock first round exit in the mixed doubles along with third seed German partner Julia Goerges.
Partnering Edourad Roger-Vasselin in the men’s doubles, the sixth seed Indo-French team beat American pair of Bradley Klahn and Sam Querrey 6-2, 6-4. However, disappointment was in store for Bopanna in the mixed doubles as he and Goerges, seeded third, lost 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-10 to America’s Abigail Spears and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico. Also exiting from the mixed doubles was Sania Mirza.