Del Potro beats Federer in Indian Wells thriller

Del Potro handed top-ranked Roger Federer his first loss of the year with a tense 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-2) victory in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells on Sunday.

Needless to say, Juan Martin del Potro was pretty excited to win a thrilling final over Roger Federer in Indian Wells on Sunday.

Del Potro, who defeated Federer in last year's US Open semi-final, saved three match points in the deciding set before the Swiss legend struggled to serve out.

Del Potro has struggled with injury since beating Federer in the 2009 US Open final to win his first grand slam, missing nearly the entire 2010 season after undergoing surgery on his wrist.

Del Potro arrived at Indian Wells having won a title in Acapulco and back in the top 10. He needed two hours, 42 minutes and saved three match points to beat the World No. 1 in a tiebreak. Osaka, just the third unseeded woman to win the event (Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters) and thus did not receive a first-round bye, went through Maria Sharapova, Aga Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep to get to the final and lost just one set all week, courtesy of the promising Maria Sakkari.

Like the second, the third set also went into a tie break, with Federer spraying many errors and losing the match. Margin = +45 points 5-9 Shots = 152 won / 130 lost.

He failed to break the dominance of Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in the years following, though, and a string of career-threatening wrist injuries hampered his game and nearly forced him to give up on tennis.

Del Potro's triumph in Indian Wells, and indeed the 11-match winning streak he is now on, will have raised hopes that he can possibly win another Slam.

"I've been working hard to get this, and I did it after all my problems, all my surgeries". Our eyes certainly don't pick up that 90 per cent of all his points had either Del Potro or his opponent hitting a maximum of just five consecutive shots in the court. Del Potro urged him to stop the pro-Federer crowd from making noise on his serve and an irritated Federer also had a couple of lively conversations with the umpire.

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. Like I said, I'm happy for Juan Martin. Federer battled back in the second set, forcing a tiebreaker and avoiding match point after del Potro netted a forehand.

On Monday, Del Potro moved up to No. 6 in the rankings. "Well done and enjoy the moment". I wouldn't be surprised if he adds another grand slam title "spoiler" to his list of accomplishments this year, especially playing with such a fearlessly big game like he did on Sunday. Winning doesn't happen evenly all over the court as much we think.

  • Steve Townsend