Juan Martin Del Potro is back where he belongs, among the elite of world tennis. It wasn’t that long ago that he thought his career was over after three surgeries and he was depressed. Now he’s achieved another career goal in winning a Masters 1000.
In a tension filled but engaging final, the Argentine came back from three championship points down to beat Roger Federer to win the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells, 6-4, 7-6(8), 7-6(3).
Del Potro was up a set and a break and had match point in the second. Federer got back in and the crowd went berserk. The second set breaker was brilliant as Fed won the last three points as that huge stadium crowd erupted with a deafening roar.
The final set went with serve but in the ninth game the world No.1 got the advantage and broke.
He was serving for the title. He was in a record eighth final and a record sixth title was a point away … three times. Del Potro produced forehand brilliance and saved them. Then in the tiebreak the Argentine turned on the pressure, Federer double faulted twice and Del Potro rolled through.
“Well, it’s so big,” Del Potro said. “I cannot believe I won this tournament, beating Roger in a great final and level of tennis. We played great tennis today. I’m No. 6 in the world, I think? Which is so good to me. And I’m excited to keep working. I’m not expecting — I not expect to go up in the ranking. I don’t care about the numbers. I just want to keep winning title like this if I can.
“But the first thing is try to be healthy during the whole year and play where I like to play. Now I have to do a smart schedule on clay to feel 100% for the rest of the season. It was an unbelievable match in all the ways.”
Federer said he has to get over it but he made it clear it hurts.
“I feel frustrated, you know, that I let an opportunity like this go by. Serving 40-15, any game I probably win — I don’t know what the stat is — 90-something percent,” he said. “So it should sting, like you said, for a bit. The question is how long? It won’t be long, but it’s disappointing talking about a great match like this, losing, even though I was right there, you know.
“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? Is it him or me? What is it? You just don’t know. Next thing you’re shaking hands and congratulating your opponent. It’s like, Okay, too good. You move on.
“And obviously there is not too much time to dwell over it. Like I said, I’m happy for Juan Martin. It’s a tough one. And I still had a good week here. I still see the positives at the end of the day.
“It was a great match, honestly. Good fun. Good intensity. We enjoy that. And also it was tough and fair on the court. It was Juan Martin and myself. At the end you saw we are appreciative of the finals that we played against each other, which I think is really important for both of us.”
The doubles title was won by John Isner and Jack Sock. It was an all-American final and they defeated Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6, 7-6. It marked just the second time in the event’s history and the first since 1981 that the doubles final featured four Americans.