Veteran Lleyton Hewitt has delivered a major US Open upset, ousting former champion Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.
Relishing his return to the big stage, veteran Lleyton Hewitt delivered a vintage performance to oust 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro and reach the third round of the US Open in New York.
Champion way back in 2001, Hewitt said he "was hanging to get out" onto Arthur Ashe Stadium - the largest arena in world tennis - and it showed as the 32-year-old willed himself to a spirited 6-4 5-7 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 comeback victory over the sixth seed in a Friday night prime-time showstopper.
"It's an honour to come back to centre court," Hewitt said.
"I don't know how many times I'm going to play here in the future. You never know if you're going to get an opportunity to play out there again.
"I didn't take it for granted out there tonight. It was an unbelievable atmosphere."
The former No.1 - now ranked 66th after needing career-saving foot surgery in early 2012 - has a golden opportunity to venture even deeper in the grand slam draw after producing the biggest first-week shock of the tournament.
Contesting his 13th US Open, Hewitt will play little-known Russian Evgeny Donsky on Sunday for a spot in the last 16.
"I'm taking it one match at a time," he said.
"Even when I was No.1 in the world I was taking it one match at a time. I never was a player to look too far ahead, the way draws can pan out.
"The most important thing in slams is trying to find a way through the first week and then focus on starting fresh the second week if you can.
"That's still the case nowadays."
Del Potro, champion at Flushing Meadows four years ago, was hopeful of adding a second title to his collection after losing the longest Wimbledon match in history to world No.1 Novak Djokovic in his most recent grand slam tilt.
Hewitt, though, had other ideas and dragged the big Argentine out of his comfort zone with some crafty baseline tennis.
The 32-year-old upset the South American's rhythm with floating backhand slices and, time and again, drew del Potro to the net and rifled winners past him.
The tactics worked a treat, especially in the fourth-set tiebreaker which Hewitt rolled through with some classic counter-punching to seemingly break del Potro's spirit.
"I played one of the best tiebreaks of my life," Hewitt said. "Just had to try and hold my service games.
"I just kept fighting and putting it out there. I kept coming at him the whole night."
The epic five-setter lasted four hours and three minutes.
"Physically, I felt like I was just a bit more on top of him," Hewitt said.
From two-sets-to-one down, Hewitt turned the match around and broke the Argentine twice more in the fifth set to take the second-round encounter.
"It's an amazing feeling," Hewitt said.
"Just going back in the locker room afterwards, I sort of had to pinch myself.
"I keep going back to it, but a year and a half ago I got told I would probably wouldn't play again with the (radical foot) surgery I had."
Donsky is ranked 36 places below Hewitt at No.102 in the world and will be contesting his first grand slam third-round match.
Hewitt said he hit with the Russian "the other day" but that he didn't know him at all.
The winner will play German 12th seed Tommy Haas or Russian Mikhail Youzhny for a likely quarter-final shot at world No.1 Novak Djokovic.