9/3/12 9:19 AM | Ricky Dimon
David Ferrer survives Lleyton Hewitt in four sets on Sunday in Flushing Meadowns. Ferrer is through to a fourth-round showdown against Richard Gasquet.
David Ferrer got the upper hand in a baseline battle between veterans on Sunday afternoon, as he defeated Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the third round of the U.S. Open. Ferrer survived a thrilling first set before pulling away to advance in three hours and 12 minutes.
The opener lived up to all the possibilities that this all-veteran matchup presented on paper. Rally after grueling rally plus a tiebreaker that lasted 20 points resulted in set one needing one hour and 14 minutes to be completed. Hewitt held a total of five set points in the 'breaker, which included a 6-3 lead. But Ferrer stayed strong and won the point of the match at 9-9 by tracking down a Hewitt drop-volley and returning with a perfectly-angled winner. The Aussie netted a backhand one point later to end it.
Hewitt had survived Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4 in four hours and 35 minutes on Friday, so losing such a brutal first set was especially bad news for the 31-year-old. Nonetheless, he broke in the first game of the second set and held on the entire way.
Ultimately, though, Hewitt had thrown everything he had at Ferrer in the first and second sets and finally there was nothing left in the 2002 champion. Ferrer broke immediately in the third, raced to a 3-0 lead, and dropped a mere four return points in the whole set. The fifth-ranked Spaniard lost only two service points in the fourth and did not give Hewitt a single game.
"The first set was key," Ferrer assured. "He won the second set but he was more tired than me. In the third and fourth I played with more power. In the fourth he was really tired."
Seeded fourth in Flushing Meadows thanks to Rafael Nadal's absence, Ferrer will face Richard Gasquet on Tuesday with a golden chance to reach the quarters and even the semis. Gasquet ended NCAA champ Steve Johnson's run in straight sets.
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