NEW YORK — Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer is having the best season of his career at age 30 and threatening to match his best Grand Slam run by reaching the US Open semi-finals.
And he doesn't really care if anyone is paying attention or not as he tries to emerge from the shadow of World No. 1 Roger Federer, defending champion Novak Djokovic and Olympic champion Andy Murray.
"No I don't care," he said. "I'm trying to do my job and win all the matches possible and nothing else more. I'm happy with that."
Ferrer, who became the top seed in his draw quarter when Rafael Nadal pulled out with knee problems, advanced to the fourth round on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts on Sunday by ousting Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 (11/9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
"The first set was key," Ferrer said. "He won the second set but he was more tired than me. In the third and fourth I played with more power. In the fourth he was really tired."
Ferrer's five ATP titles this year are second only to World No. 1 Roger Federer's six crowns, with Ferrer hoisting trophies at Auckland, Buenos Aires, Acapulco, s-Hertogenbosch and Bastad.
Ferrer's best Grand Slam result was a run to the 2007 US Open semi-finals, which he matched last year at the Australian Open and this year at the French Open. He also reached this year's last eight at Wimbledon and Australia.
"I'm having the best season of my career and I think it's the right time. I'm 30 years old," Ferrer said.
After ousting the 2001 US Open champion in three hours and 12 minutes, Ferrer will next face the winner of a later match between French 13th seed Richard Gasquet and 245-ranked reigning US college champion Steve Johnson.
Australian 125th-ranked wildcard Hewitt, 31, and Ferrer were two of eight players 30-or-older to reach the third round, the most since 1974.
Hewitt has not reached the last 16 at the US Open since 2006 and was nagged by groin and foot problems in the past year. This was only his second hardcourt event since the Australian Open.
"All in all I'm happy," Hewitt said. "It takes a quality player to beat me."
Hewitt committed 72 unforced errors, 61 in the first three sets, and dropped five set points in the tie-breaker as well as surrendering service breaks on double faults in the third and fourth sets.
"I was really good," Ferrer said. "I had my chance and I took it."
Hewitt denied Ferrer on eight of nine break chances early in the first set, broke back to force a tie-breaker, then squandered five set points before giving Ferrer the set by netting a backhand after 74 minutes.
"I was fighting hard to just stay in touch in the first set," Hewitt said. "Winning the first set would have made life a lot easier."
Hewitt broke to open the second set and held through to level the match but he double faulted away breaks in the second game of the third set and first game of the fourth set, giving the Spaniard the only openings he needed.
"He picked up his game in the third set," Hewitt said. "He started dictating play. He didn't give me quite as many cheap points."
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