It seemed for all the world that former tennis wunderkind Lleyton Hewitt would be making his first appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinals match in four years. His challenger, No. 21 seed Mikhail Youzhny, never relented, however, defeating the Aussie in a five-set thriller 6-3 3-6 6-7 (7-3) 6-4 7-5 at the US Open Tuesday in Flushing Meadows.
Hewitt dropped the first set, but came back to win the next two, including a third set tiebreaker. He appeared to have the match locked up, leading 4-1 in the fourth set. Youzhny, however, stormed back, winning the final five games and setting up a decisive fifth set.
The two traded breaks early, then each man held serve. Hewitt held again before breaking Youzhny -- thanks to a double fault to end the game from the Russian -- and the Aussie then held serve.
Yet again, it appeared Hewitt -- leading 5-2 -- had the match under wraps.
But not to be outdone, Youzhny battled back yet again, again winning the final five games, setting up a potential showdown with No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic will face Marcel Granollers later Tuesday.
Hewitt, 32, was the youngest player ever to be named the world No. 1 when he earned the distinction in 2001 at the age of 20. He won his first Grand Slam title that year -- the US Open -- defeating American Pete Sampras.
A year later, Hewitt won Wimbledon, his second and most recent Grand Slam championship.
Hewitt last reached the quarterfinals of the US Open in 2006, losing to Andy Roddick.
Youzhny has twice reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, most recently in 2010.