NEW YORK — Displaying the shots and grit that earned him a U.S. Open trophy a dozen years ago, Lleyton Hewitt surprised 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 in the second round Friday night.
The four-hour match was the ninth time in the past 10 years two past Open winners faced each other. Hewitt was involved four times, losing three.
Hewitt, 32, is a former No. 1 who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, but the Australian has been troubled by injuries since and is now ranked 66th. He repeatedly scrambled along the baseline to stretch for passing winners against the Argentine del Potro, the sixth seed.
"I don't know how many years I've got left in me. I keep getting asked the question," said Hewitt, who next faces 102nd-ranked Evgeny Donskoy. "I'm just pumped to get out on this court and try to put on a great show."
On a day that had been devoid of significant surprises to that point, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray each took another step toward a semifinal meeting, looking shaky at moments and sensational in others in wins. Djokovic, the top seed, faced two early set points, and defending champion Murray had to go four sets.
No. 81 Leonardo Mayer ran Murray all over the court, but the third seed excels at chasing down shots. Murray won the last five games for a 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win.
"I served a low percentage," Murray said. "So I was playing a lot of points on my second serve. When that happens, you have to do a lot of the running. You don't feel like you're dictating the match. It can be frustrating."
After winning the first set in a tiebreaker, Djokovic, the 2011 champion, needed less than an hour to close out 87th-ranked Benjamin Becker 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2. Becker was serving for the first set at 5-4. But he wasted the first set point with a forehand into the net and the second when a backhand sailed wide.
"Becker … should have won the first set," Djokovic said. "I was fortunate enough to come back and win … and after that, I was much more comfortable on the court."
Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens, seeded 15th, beat fellow American Jamie Hampton 6-1, 6-3 to reach the round of 16. Stephens was on track to next face defending champ Serena Williams, who played Yaroslava Shvedova in a match that followed Hewitt-del Potro in Arthur Ashe Stadium and didn't begin until close to midnight. Stephens beat Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Bumpy Hingis return: Martina Hingis closed out the first match in her return to the majors with back-to-back double faults in a 6-3, 7-5 doubles loss to top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Hingis, 32, inducted into the Hall of Fame last month, partnered with Daniela Hantuchova for her first major appearance since retiring in 2007. She later played mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi and lost to Yung-Jan Chan and Robert Lindstedt 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5). "Hardcourt is not the best surface for a comeback," she said.