Lleyton Hewitt defeated #6 Juan Martin del Potro Friday night in the second round in an exciting 5-set match that lasted four hours and three minutes. Both are previous US Open champions.
Hewitt won in 2001 when he defeated Pete Sampras and won Wimbledon in 2002. He secured the #1 ranking, but was plagued by injuries. He lost in the first round in four of his last six Grand Slam events. From ESPN:
“A couple years ago, when I had a couple foot surgeries, I didn’t know if I was going to play tennis again,” Hewitt said.
“For me to be out here competing, it’s a … lot of fun. I cherish every match I get out there. This is why I still play, to have moments like this,” he continued. “Sometimes playing the smaller tournaments, it’s hard to get up for. It’s not hard to get up for here, that’s for sure.”
Del Potro won in 2009 against Roger Federer, but could not defend his title in 2010 because of a wrist injury. He had surgery and it still bothers him. However, he does not use it as an excuse:
“He’s a great champion, a great fighter, and for the second round, he’s a very difficult player to play,” del Potro said.
“The wrist is not the way I’d like, but it’s not an excuse,” said del Potro, who did not try to defend his US Open title in 2010, because of a left wrist injury that required surgery. “Now I have a few days to rest.”
Hewitt won 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1. Even though it was five sets it was not that close and Hewitt was in control the entire match. Del Potro never looked like himself and made too many simple mistakes. He finished with 70 unforced errors. Then he completely fell apart in the fifth set and lost on a double fault.
He faces Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the third round.