The fifth day of the 2013 U.S. Open lent to many of the game's biggest names advancing to the next round in the year's final Grand Slam tournament, but there wasn't a scarcity of challenges or surprises overall.
Both top seeds on the men's and women's side were in action, and while Novak Djokovic was forced to a tiebreaker in the opening set, he was still able to get through Round 2 in straight sets over German upstart Benjamin Becker.
Defending champion Serena Williams didn't have so much trouble, easily disposing of Yaroslava Shvedova. Williams will play American compatriot Sloane Stephens in the round of 16, which should be interesting considering Stephens beat Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
Williams' match was preceded by an epic five-set match, where Lleyton Hewitt pulled the upset over No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro. Of the four five-set showdowns on the men's side on Friday, this was certainly the most exciting one.
Both men have won this event before, but the man everyone is chasing is Andy Murray, the reigning winner at Flushing Meadows and also the current holder of the Wimbledon title.
Below is a more detailed analysis of the notable developments on Day 5, including the struggles Murray continued to endure on the hard-court season even in victory.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of USOpen.org, where complete results can also be found.
2013 U.S. Open Results for Day 5
Resurgent Hewitt Outlasts Del Potro in Five-Set Thriller
A woeful first set from del Potro saw him hit 20 unforced errors to just five winners, but it was the perpetual persistence of Hewitt that forced the Argentine to press.
Del Potro did look to be in some pain in his wrist, according to the ESPN telecast, yet it was still extremely impressive for Hewitt to come back when del Potro mounted an inevitable rally.
On serve at 5-4 for a two sets to love lead, del Potro broke Hewitt and went on to win the next two games to even the match. Instead of caving, the relentless competitiveness of Hewitt shined through.
When it looked out of reach after dropping the third set 6-3, the Aussie dug deep and pulled off his best set of service on the evening. Then, he thoroughly dominated del Potro with an array of nicely angled winners in taking the tiebreak by a score of 7-2:
In the post-match interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Hewitt said it was one of the best tiebreakers he'd ever played. That's a bold statement from a man who was No. 1 in the world at one time and won this title in 2001.
From there, the outcome was inevitable. A gassed del Potro still wielded a mighty forehand, but it wasn't enough to even compete with Hewitt in the final set. Hewitt took it 6-1, but del Potro was all class afterward as the two embraced at the net.
Hewitt, who has endured numerous health problems throughout his lengthy career, summarized his feelings well:
It was only the second round, but this was a duel for the ages between two past U.S. Open champions that won't soon be forgotten.
Majority of Top Seeds Advance Despite Numerous Tiebreakers
As mentioned before, Murray had some difficulty getting past his second-round match with Leonardo Mayer.
Fitness is usually Murray's forte, but Mayer remained resilient even after dropping the first two sets. What was most impressive is that Murray hit 22 of his 26 first serves during the fourth, but Mayer's returning was up to the task, as Murray won just 55 percent of those points.
But as great champions do, the Scot shook off that letdown and asserted his will, winning the decisive set by a score of 6-1.
Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych—who beat Murray in Cincinnati preceding the U.S. Open—had his own struggles, being pushed to two tiebreaks in the first two sets against American Denis Kudla. The Czech still managed to win each 7-3, then cruised 6-3 in the third.
No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka didn't have an easy road to winning his straight-sets showdown with Ivo Karlovic, starting off winning 7-5 and 7-6 with a 10-8 tiebreaker before disposing of him 6-4.
Tommy Haas had to close his match in a third-set tiebreak against Yen-Hsun Lu, too.
The other notable upset on the men's draw was hard-hitting Marcos Baghdatis, who demolished 17th seed Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
Baghdatis simply outslugged the equally powerful Anderson from behind the baseline, hitting 34 winners and just 13 unforced errors, while Anderson had numbers of 17 and 19 in the same categories.
As for the women, Agnieszka Radwanska needed a second-set tiebreaker to beat young Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while Jelena Jankovic was on edge in both sets in beating Kurumi Nara 6-4, 7-6 (5).
Extra points were less common on the women's side, and the only notable upset was relatively notable.
Ekaterina Makarova ousted Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5. Lisicki played her Russian counterpart relatively evenly but committed 30 unforced errors to Makarova's 20 and was inferior on first serves, which proved to be the difference.