Photo: Paul ZimmerLleyton Hewitt (AUS) - 2013 US Open
Lleyton Hewitt lived up to his billing as one of the Grand Slams most dangerous floaters after scoring the scalp of world No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open on Friday night.
The 2001 champion won 64 57 36 76 61 in four hours and three minutes under the lights on Arthur Ashe to oust the 2009 winner, and this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist, in the second round.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I just kept fighting and putting it out there,” said Hewitt, who faces world No. 102 Evgeny Donskoy in the third round. “It's an amazing feeling. Just going back in the locker room afterwards I sort of had to pinch myself.
“A year and a half ago I got told I probably wouldn't play again with the surgery I had. For me, I love being out in that atmosphere, sucking up every second of it.”
Hewitt may be 32 but the Australian, who is hoping to play a part in his nation’s Davis Cup World Group play-off the week after the US Open, says his aging body stood up to the five-set showdown.
“Physically I feel fine out there,” he said. “If I can take guys to five sets, I know it's slightly in my favour sometimes. Especially against some of these bigger, stronger guys who can go out there and try and hit me off the court in three straight sets.
“I felt comfortable going into the fifth. And, you know, the way my body's been, I've been able to do a lot more training and a lot of other stuff, which I couldn't do a couple years ago because I was in too much pain.”
Third seed Andy Murray avoided any chance of an upset with a 75 61 36 61 victory over Leonardo Mayer and admitted he is still working towards his best form in New York.
“I finished the match well today. I played well when I needed to. That's a good sign,” said Murray, who faces another Mayer, this time Germany’s Florian, in the third round. “Obviously I want to keep improving as the tournament goes on. You don't want to play your best right at the beginning, so I hope I can get better.”
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic defeated Benjamin Becker, Tomas Berdych bypassed Denis Kudla and 35-year-old Tommy Haas provided another triumph for the older generation after defeating Yen-Hsun Lu 63 64 76.
"It's always about being smart, about how you train and what you do off the court," said the German of competing at 35. "If your body allows you to do all that stuff, then it's really up to you in many ways."
Meanwhile 15th seed Sloane Stephens set up a meeting between old and new after defeating compatriot Jamie Hampton 61 63 to force a fourth round showdown with Serena Williams, who also dropped just four games in conquering Yaroslava Shvedova.
“I think it will be epic,” said Stephens of their upcoming match. “I'm really looking forward to it. She's a great competitor, one of the best players to ever play the game.”
Agnieszka Radwanska also made it through to the fourth round in straight sets after defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 64 76 in two hours, while Li Na extracted revenge on Laura Robson, who knocked her out at this stage in New York last year, with a 62 75 triumph.
Eighth-seed Angelique Kerber and ninth-seed Jelena Jankovic also made it through in straight sets, while Ekaterina Makarova ended the hopes of 16th seed Sabine Lisicki.