Juan Martin Del Potro Upsets Federer In Tense Thriller To Win First Masters Title In Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin Del Potro Upsets Federer In Tense Thriller To Win First Masters Title In Indian Wells

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Juan Martin del Potro has ended Roger Federer’s unbeaten start to the year with a marathon 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2), victory to claim his first ever Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The pulsating 262-minute encounter saw both men at their best as they expressed their frustration. Throughout the match, Del Potro complained about members of the crowd trying to deliberately interrupt his service motion. Meanwhile, an animated Federer was bemused by several decisions made by the umpire. Despite the controversy, Del Potro managed to prevail with the help of 51 winners to lift his biggest title since the 2009 US Open and his first Masters title at the age of 29.

“I’m still shaking.” Del Potro said minutes after his victory. “I cannot believe that I am here with this trophy. Beating Roger, I was really angry after the second set, but I was lucky in the last tiebreaker to play well.”

Despite being a former grand slam champion, the world No.8 entered the final as the underdog. In their seven previous meetings in Masters tournaments, Del Potro has lost all of them to Federer. Including their 2012 Indian Wells clash where he only won five games. Furthermore, Federer was relishing in his best ever start to the season at the age of 36 with a 17-match winning streak.

From the onset Del Potro appeared to be the better of the two men. Settling into the match instantly by displaying some solid defensive play alongside some monstrous forehand shots. In contrast, Federer appeared tentative on the court as he showed glimmers of his patchy play similar to his semi-final win over Borna Coric. Against the Croat he survived, but not against his latest opponent. Who contemplated retirement a couple years ago.

A relentless Del Potro grabbed his first breakthrough five games into the match. A lacklustre service game, featuring back-to-back Federer errors, granted the sixth seed the break for 3-2. Firmly in control of proceedings, Del Potro continued to dominate the set emphatically. Winning 12 straight points to seal the 6-4 lead. Hitting 10 winners to only 3 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Federer’s 11 and 11.

Only six games away from the biggest title of his career, the win was by no means a foregone conclusion for the 29-year-old. On seven previous occasions the Argentine has won the opening set against Federer before losing. This time however Del Potro refused to relinquish his momentum as both players delighted the crowd with an array of gut-busting rallies. Although it was a far from simple process.

With little disparity between the two players, both of them remained resilient. The second set saw eight tense games go by with no break points before Del Potro faced his first real test. Serving 4-5, a forehand error granted Federer two set points. Nevertheless, he refused to back down as another lightning forehand winner help guide him to save both break points before drawing level at 5-5.

Anger and frustration erupt

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With everything to play for, the second set tiebreaker was one of the most dramatic moments of the entire tournament this year. Both Federer and Del Potro complained to the match umpire as the animated crowd prompted frustration from both with their calling out.

It seemed as if Federer would clinch it with ease before three set points came and went. Leading 6-5, a serve from the Swiss player was called in before a hawk-eye challenge from his rival ruled it out. Prompting the world No.1 to hit a double fault. Three points later Del Potro earned his first championship point with the help of a 110mph second serve, but failed to convert due to a forehand error. It wasn’t until his seventh set point opportunity that Federer prevailed after a backhand error from Del Potro landed out.

Opportunities continued to come and go for both men in the decider. First, it was Federer who had a trio of match points whilst leading 5-4, but failed to convert all of them. The inability to capitalize was one that cost the Swiss No.1. As Federer faded during the closing stages of the match, Del Potro dominated the second tiebreaker. Racing to a further five match points with little difficulty. The win was then sealed with the help of a forehand shank from his rival.

“Juan Martin, well done today. It was a tough match, but well done you deserve it.” A disappointed Federer said in tribute to his opponent.
“You were the much better player at the end. There wasn’t much between us, but you served it (the win).”

Del Potro is the first Argentine winner in the history of the Indian Wells tournament. He is also the first South American champion since Marcelo Rio back in 1998. The triumph has denied Federer a record sixth title at the event as the world No.1 focuses on the positives.

“I’m so happy to be here, except for the losing part. It’s tough, but I’m so happy to be back in the finals here at Indian Wells. I had a great run again this week.” He said.

It is the first time that Del Potro has defeated the 20-time grand slam champion since the 2009 US Open. He will take home $1.3 million in prize money.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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