Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Sunday by defeating 125th-ranked Australian wildcard Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 (11/9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
After ousting the 2001 U.S. Open champion in three hours and 12 minutes, Ferrer will next face the winner of a later match between French 13th seed Richard Gasquet and 245-ranked reigning US college champion Steve Johnson.
Ferrer’s best Grand Slam result was a run to the 2007 US Open semi-finals, which he matched last year at the Australian Open and this year at the French Open. He also reached this year’s last eight at Wimbledon and Australia.
Ferrer’s five ATP titles this year are second only to World No. 1 Roger Federer’s six, with crowns at Auckland, Buenos Aires, Acapulco, s-Hertogenbosch and Bastad.
“I’m having the best season of my career and I think it’s the right time,” Ferrer said. “I’m 30 years old.”
Hewitt, 31, and Ferrer were two of eight players 30-or-older to reach the third round, the most since 1974. Hewitt has not reached the last 16 at the US Open since 2006 and was nagged by groin and foot problems in the past year.
Hewitt committed 72 unforced errors, 61 in the first three sets, and dropped five set points in the tie-breaker as well as surrendering service breaks on double faults in the third and fourth sets.
“I was really good,” Ferrer said. “I had my chance and I took it.”
In a back-and-forth matchup of baseline groundstrokers, Hewitt denied Ferrer on eight of nine break chances in his first three service games then broke to level matters at 3-3 when Ferrer pushed a forehand wide.
Hewitt fell behind early in the tie-breaker, rallied for a 6-3 lead, then squandered five set-point chances before Ferrer took advantage of his second such opportunity, ending the 74-minute set when Hewitt netted a backhand.
Hewitt broke to open the second set and held to the finish to level the match, Ferrer swatted a forehand long to drop the set two hours into the fight.
But Ferrer broke Hewitt to seize a 2-0 lead in the third set, the Aussie conceding the break with his third double fault of the match, and the Spaniard held the rest of the wa to claim the third set.
Hewitt double-faulted away another break to open the fourth set and Ferrer jumped ahead 3-0 after Hewitt send a forehand long and 5-0 after the Aussie netted a backhand to end a nine-minute game before holding for the victory.