Lleyton Hewitt vs Juan Martin del Potro: Preview
Lleyton proves there is still fight in the old dog yet. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)
It may be very early in the tournament but what a match we will have when two former US Open champions go head-to-head in this intriguing second round showdown at Flushing Meadows.
Champion in 2001, and now ranked in the mid-60s, Lleyton Hewitt turned back the clock when he defeated American Brian Baker in his first round match in four sets, playing very impressive tennis throughout and never giving Baker any chances.
His opponent will be 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who, like Hewitt, had to fight hard for his right to be represented in the second round, digging out a hard-fought, four-set victory over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a four-hour battle.
This will be the fifth official meeting between Hewitt and del Potro, and the second at a Grand Slam tournament.
The pair have split their four meetings, whilst Hewitt won their only previous encounter at Grand Slam level, back at Wimbledon in 2009.
Lleyton Hewitt vs Juan Martin del Potro (6)
August, August 30
Not before 7:00pm (Saturday 9.00am AEST)
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Head-to-Head: Tied two-all
Last meeting: Hewitt 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, quarter-finals, 2013 Queen’s Club Championships
Juan Martin del Potro’s bid to add the 2013 US Open to his solitary success in 2009 faces its first serious challenge when he faces up to fellow former champion, and former world number one, Lleyton Hewitt, in a blockbuster second round showdown under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Del Potro has enjoyed a successful return to the top ten, over two-and-a-half years since a career-threatening wrist injury sent his ranking plummeting down to 485.
Having been ranked in the top ten since February last year, the Argentine has maintained consistent form and this was highlighted when he reached the quarter-finals at three of the four Majors last year, the lone exception being Wimbledon.
And this year he continues to impress. He’s won titles in Rotterdam and Washington and also reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon, pushing world number one Novak Djokovic to five sets over four hours and 40 minutes.
His opponent, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, has significantly suffered a decline in form as he edges closer to retirement but as we have seen in recent times, he is still in for a fight.
Among Hewitt’s significant results this season have been a run to the final in Newport, a run to the semis at Queen’s and winning the unofficial Australian Open lead-up event, the Kooyong Classic, earlier in the year.
He’s also had victories over Sam Querrey, John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov and Stanislas Wawrinka this year, whilst also pushing Gilles Simon to the limit at Roland Garros back in May.
Hewitt also has an even record against del Potro, though both of Hewitt’s wins have come on grass: the aforementioned Wimbledon showdown in 2009 and in the quarter-finals of the Queen’s Club Championships in June.
Hewitt also defeated del Potro to win the Kooyong Classic earlier this year, but it doesn’t count as an official ATP World Tour victory.
Both of del Potro’s victories, however, have come on hard courts, including at Washington in 2009 which the Argentine won before ultimately triumphing at Flushing Meadows the same year.
Get ready for what should be an intriguing clash of the gladiators.
Key: Both players are hard-court specialists and are also former US Open champions, but it’s del Potro who is the more established now, whilst Hewitt’s best is all but beyond him.
Prediction: del Potro in four sets.
Other matches to watch out for in the coming days
* this is on the assumption that Rafael Nadal wins his second round match.