“The more you win five-set matches, when the match goes the distance, I think your opponents know that as well.”Lleyton Hewitt
Never-say-die Lleyton Hewitt has staged yet another Houdini act to score an heroic five-set second-round victory at the US Open.
The South Australian overcame intense heat, a big deficit, 95 winners and 35 aces from big-serving Gilles Muller to reach the third round.
The 31-year-old wildcard received a standing ovation to chants of “Hewitt, Hewitt, Hewitt” on Court 11 after prevailing 3-6 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 in four hours and 35 minutes.
Hewitt admitted his phenomenal five-set record gave him heart, which now stands at 31 five-set wins – the best among all active players.
“The more you win five-set matches, when the match goes the distance, I think your opponents know that as well,” Hewitt said.
Wife Bec, coach Tony Roche, Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter and hitting partners Peter Luczak and “Big Red” Chris Guccione were on the edge of their courtside seats throughout the tension-filled encounter.
The match was played under the extreme heat rules, with extra time allowed during the changeovers, when Hewitt and Muller often applied ice packs to their necks and arms in an effort to cool down.
At one stage in the match, Hewitt was staring down the barrel, trailing by a set, 5-3 and love-30 on serve.
All up, the 2001 champion had to fight off 14 break points and overcome 14 double-faults to survive.
The titanic win was Hewitt’s 31st five-set victory and set up a third-round clash on Sunday with Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer.
“It’s a big step up in class,” Hewitt said.
“It’s a totally different match again. He’s not going to be hitting aces, but he’s not going to be missing any balls either.
“He’s a quality player. Over five sets, he’s extremely tough. I’ll go out there and I’ll have a crack.”