| Lleyton Hewitt after beating Paradorn Srichaphan at Flushing Meadow on Thursday. The Aussie won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. (Reuters)
New York: Lleyton Hewitt expressed disbelief at the circumstances behind his fourth-round win over Thai Paradorn Srichaphan on Thursday.
The Australian sixth seed, who captured the Flushing Meadow title in 2001, beat Paradorn 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to set up a quarter final meeting with third seed Juan Carlos Ferrero.
It was Hewitt who eventually shrugged off an impromptu court change earlier on Thursday, when organisers switched their rain-hit encounter to court 11 from the Grandstand showcourt.
The Grandstand court had a problem with water seepage, leaving pools of water over the surface, which would not clear.
“I’ve never had (a court change mid-match) happen to me,” said Hewitt, who was trailing Paradorn 4-3 when they resumed on Thursday.
“Not only at a Grand Slam but even at a local junior country tournament back in Australia. We went to warm-up on Grandstand this morning and there was water coming out of the court...It was incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“It was like playing on ice. There was no way Paradorn or I was going to go out there. Anyone would have risked injury.”
The rain delays left Hewitt having to play four matches in four days to win the title.
In contrast, Americans Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick managed to reach the last eight on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, giving them extra rest.
Hewitt laughed off suggestions that the USTA wanted to help their players ahead of others but added: “It is going to be tough to win four matches in a row. So maybe there is a disadvantage in that respect. But I felt I went up a gear against Paradorn and it gives me confidence. I need to improve still but I have good memories of playing here over the years and I believe I’m good enough to win (again).”
Hewitt has now reached four quarter finals here in each of the last four years.
Meanwhile, Michael Chang finally got his farewell tribute at the US Open. The ceremony was postponed twice by persistent rain that delayed the tournament this week. When the skies cleared, he was honoured at Centre Court on Thursday night.
The youngest man ever to win a US Open match and the youngest Grand Slam champion in history gave the fans one more trademark fist pump and received a standing ovation.
Chang ended his career with one last match at the Open last week, one day after the USTA honoured Pete Sampras with a Centre Court ceremony.
He was introduced to the crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium one final time by Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe.