Hewitt falls to Janowicz in marathon duel

London (AFP) - Lleyton Hewitt set a new record for playing the most five-set Grand Slam matches but insisted at 33 he felt fresh enough to carry on putting himself "through the wringer".

The Australian veteran, playing his 16th Wimbledon, said quitting was "not something I think about" despite the exhausting toll it has taken on his body.

The 2002 champion went out in the second round to Polish 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz on Friday in a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-3 defeat that was a gritty battle between two fierce competitors.

The contest saw Hewitt break the Open Era record for the most five-set matches played at Grand Slams.

It was his 42nd five-setter. He previously shared the record of 41 with Andre Agassi.

"I wouldn't have a clue on the record. I'd much rather win in three or four sets than go the distance all the time. I seem to put everyone through the wringer quite a bit," Hewitt said.

With a win-loss record of 26-16, only Pete Sampras on 29-9 has won more five-set matches in the post-1968 Open Era.

Hewitt waved goodbye to the Wimbledon crowd but said he didn't know it it was adieu or just au revoir.

"You never know. I'm one injury away from hanging up the bats at any time. Obviously you appreciate the support out there," the world number 48 said.

"When you're out there in battle, you're doing what comes naturally to you. Nothing changes. I'm focused on every single point. As soon as anything else starts entering your mind, you might as well walk inside. You're done."

- Former number one still 'dangerous' -

Hewitt said the possibility of not playing another Wimbledon was "not something I think about".

"I'm playing for my own reasons. I know when I play my best tennis, I can still go out there and push guys, especially on this kind of surface over five sets," said the former world number one.

"I still enjoy it. I still enjoy doing the hard work. For moments out there like this, to play five-setters against the best guys in the world.

"In some ways, the last couple years, I've been grateful I've been able to come back, especially after the last surgery where I didn't really think I'd be able to go out there and compete against the guys again.

"There's satisfaction in doing that."

Hewitt, 33, was contesting his 61st Grand Slam. He is in joint-second place with Agassi and Roger Federer on the list of the most Grand Slams played in the Open Era, behind Fabrice Santoro on 70.

"The body felt fine out there which is obviously a positive thing," he said after losing to Janowicz.

"But it's still frustrating to walk off the court feeling fine, feeling like you could have bounced back and played another five-setter."

Janowicz, who at 23 is 10 years younger than his opponent, was in no doubt that the Australian should carry on.

"Lleyton Hewitt is really dangerous," the Pole said after their first encounter.

"He's a really, really good player. It doesn't matter how old he is. In my opinion, he will not finish his career like this. He will still play at least two more years.

"I hope I will not play against him any more."