Thirteen years after beating Argentina's David Nalbandian to win the title, the 34-year-old, who will retire after next year's Australian Open, went toe to toe with fellow veteran Nieminen but went down 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9.

Roared on by his fans all dressed in gold Hewitt saved two consecutive match points at 4-5 in the fifth set, but eventually succumbed in a match spanning four hours.

It was the former world number one Australian's 56th five-setter in a superb grand slam career in which he also beat Pete Sampras to win the 2001 U.S. Open.

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