Juan Martin del Potro ruined the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal party on Wednesday at the US Open when the former champion defeated the five-time winning Swiss 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8) 6-4.
“I played my best match of the tournament,” said Del Potro, who saved four set points in the third-set tiebreak. “I served well and hit my forehand as hard as I can. We played a great match and I think I deserved to win in the end.”
Federer and Nadal now continue the streak of never facing each other in their careers at the US Open, and Nadal will take over the No. 1 ranking come Monday.
“I think it’s my home court,” Del Potro said of the New York Argentine-heavy crowd. “You make me so happy every time I play here. I love to see the crowd chanting for me.”
It’s the sixth time that Federer and Nadal were one match from meeting in New York, and it didn’t happen.
Del Potro’s triumph began with a good start to the match. Federer was also in form until 5-all when the Swiss double faulted handing Delpo a break point, and the Argentine took advantage screaming a winner off a flat Federer volley.
Federer, though, quickly got back on top in the second paced by his serve which surrendered just 8 points in the set and 12/15 at the net.
Entering the third, the crowd and momentum was with the 5-time champion. Except it didn’t last long after giving Delpo a break courtesy of a double fault.
Delpo pounced and looked to be in control until 4-2 when he too double faulted a break!
In the breaker, it was Federer jumping ahead 3-1 and held two set points at 6-4. But del Potro wouldn’t quit. He leveled at 6-6 however threw in a horrible double fault.
Federer would not close it out, right? Wrong! Two more set points were saved until del Potro finally took it when a Federer volley landed long much to the approval of the Argentine crowd.
Federer was faced with having to win a third match in five sets if he were to set-up that Nadal showdown.
Del Potro, though, broke at 2-all, then hung on for the 2-hour, 50-minute win.
“It happens,” Federer said of those missed chances in the fourth. “I don’t know. I mean, it’s hard to explain. Sometimes you do the right things and he does, too. Then it matches up badly your way.
“I didn’t think I played bad. You know, towards the end of the breakers, you know, I can do better maybe, sure, but I think the decisions that we both took, me serving, him returning, or whatever it may have been, you know, it just didn’t go my way.
“But I don’t think those four points make all of the difference. There was more to it that led to me being down two sets to one and being down two sets to one, and the break, I missed too many balls to keep me maybe ahead in the match or didn’t put me into so much trouble where I needed luck or I needed him to take poor decisions.
“You know, he came up with the goods when he needed to and I helped him a little bit sometimes too maybe. But he was better today, especially on the big points.”
Del Potro finished 48 winners to 32 unforced errors and 12 aces. Federer fired 60 winners, to just 41 unforced with 17 aces. But Roger only managed to win 73% of his first serves.
With his back injury, Federer was pleased overall with his tournament.
“In some ways I’m actually happy I made the quarters, so I’m not disappointed, because it’s been a good run this year already,” Federer said. “Unfortunately I ran into a guy who was better than me today.”
Del Potro in the semifinals will face Nadal, who was at his best dismantling Russian rising teen star Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
“Andrey was playing in his first [Grand Slam] quarterfinal and he played with more mistakes than usual,” Nadal said. “It’s an important victory for me, winning past two matches in straight sets is very good news for me. I’m very, very happy to be in the semifinals again in New York. It’s very important to me and I’m very excited to have this opportunity again.”
Rublev will be forced to play the qualifying at his next ATP event in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“It’s a great experience to play quarterfinal against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal,” said Rublev. “I’m really happy. I will try now to practice harder to improve everything for the next time if we play each other to try to compete better.”
Nadal leads Del Potro 8-5 in their career head-to-head, but the Argentine has won their two most recent meetings.
“Juan Martin is a top player,” Nadal said. “Is true that when he’s playing well, it’s difficult to stop him. Probably the forehand is maybe the fastest on the tour. And of course to win tonight, he should be serving well. If he serve well and hit well his forehand, he’s a player that have the chance to win against, of course, everybody.”
“I need to be very focused with my serve and play aggressive, because if you let him play from good positions with his forehand, you are dead, because he plays super-aggressive, hitting so hard. So probably he’s unstoppable from that positions, no? I need to play long, I need to play against his backhand, and then open the court.”
You Might Like:
Novak Djokovic Tours His Childhood Tennis Club During A Facebook Live Session [Video]
Scenes From the Sydney Player Party [Video]
Lung Infection Not Contagious, Federer at Dubai Player Party
Serena Williams: OSCARS 3rd Best Day of My Life
Here’s Novak Djokovic Dancing The Night Away In Dubai [Video]