Friday, 19 October, 2018

Del Potro edges Federer in 3 sets to win Indian Wells title

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a shot during his match against Taro Daniel of Japan during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Del Potro edges Federer in 3 sets to win Indian Wells title
Shannon Reynolds | 21 March, 2018, 00:07

Juan Martin del Potro saved three match points in a thrilling final at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday before handing world number one Roger Federer his first loss of the year and claiming his maiden Masters 1000 title. It was his first win against Federer since last year's U.S. Open quarters.

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro (right) meets Switzerland's Roger Federer after the Indian Wells Masters final on Sunday. "I played unbelievable tennis, nearly three hours, and beating Roger for the first time this year, that means a lot to me".

Del Potro arrived in the Californian desert on the back of a title win in Acapulco but had far from a smooth ride against an agitated Federer, who simply would not give up on his quest for a sixth Indian Wells title.

"I couldn't imagine this moment". I'm No. 6 in the world, I think?

At just 20-years-old, Osaka is the youngest Indian Wells champion since Serbia's Ana Ivanovic won the title in 2008. "I'm still surprising myself, and I want to keep surprising the tennis tour". "He should have maybe closed it first in the second set I believe".

Del Potro was considered a genuine threat to Federer's dominance of the game when he won at Flushing Meadows in 2009 but has been dogged since by a series of wrist problems which nearly ended his career. Overall he holds a commanding 18-7 lead but in finals it's a different story, including the 2009 US Open which Del Potro won 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

His celebrations, however, were short lived.

Del Potro saved three match points before closing out victory in two hours 42 minutes.

Del Potro is hardly a feel-good story anymore, the underdog scrapping his way back from three wrist surgeries between 2014 and 2015 that caused him to contemplate retirement.

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And Federer made him pay for his error, winning the two following points to take the match to a third and deciding set.

How did Del Potro beat Federer again?

It was maybe a point here or there, maybe a shot, maybe a forehand, maybe a chip."Federer, the oldest world number one in ATP history at 36, entered the final having dropped just one set, in a hard semi-final test from Croatia's Borna Coric". But Del Potro stormed back to force another tie-break which he breezed through 7-2 to claim 6-4 6-7, 7-6 triumph.

Nadal's absence through injury means he will lose 600 ATP points, giving Federer a 890-point advantage at the top.

Federer is the defending champion there, too.

Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios are other pretenders to the throne, but neither has been able to really get going yet this year.

"All I can do now is to try to embrace the process every day".

"Serving 40-15, any game I probably win - I don't know what the stat is - 90-something per cent".

The Argentine has won four of their six finals in their career and beaten him twice in five meetings since Federer's triumphant return from injury. The question is how long? "It's disappointing, but I thought it was a good match". There's no time to dwell over it. I don't know. Having Juan Martin come in and having to hit something past me that's very uncomfortable for him, and you pick the wrong side and you're like, Why am I picking the wrong side? It's a tough one.

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