A maiden Masters 1000 finals for the Tower of Tandil Juan Martin Del Potro as he defeated defending champion Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2) in a dramatic 2 hour and 42-minute final.
The Argentine had to save three match points before prevailing in a third set tiebreaker and in doing so ended Roger's 17 match unbeaten start to 2018 whilst maintaining his own 11 match win streak dating back to Acapulco which helps see him move up to World Number 6.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and chose sides. Del Potro chose to receive. The Swiss held to 30 for 1-0 before Del Potro leveled. The pair then exchanged holds but in game five Roger played a sloppy game to get broken to love. Del Potro consolidated and cantered to the set, winning 9 points in a row on his serve as he took it 6-4.
Roger desperately needed to tighten up his forehand wing in set two but he found himself in trouble in the first game having to save two break points en route to holding. Del Potro quickly drew level but it was Roger who started to make inroads in his next few return games, winning the opening point on the Argentines serve for three games in a row but he couldn't find a way through, holding two set points at 5-4 but Del Potro stood firm.
The set resulted in a tie-break and Roger took charge early, moving up a mini-break and into a 6-3 lead. On set point at 6-5 Fed served what he thought was an ace and almost made it to the changeover before Del Potro challenged and it was declared out. The Swiss then double-faulted but recovered with an ace to lead 7-6. Del Potro then won both his service points to hold match point but Roger dug in, winning three points in a row to nab the set thanks to some stunning defensive work.
With Del Potro fuming at the pro-Federer crowd he was clearly rattled at the start of the third but Roger couldn't take advantage failing to break in games one and three when he had half chances. Fortunately, he was taking care of his own service games nicely dropping just five points as he levelled at four games all. and in game nine the 5-time champion took what appeared to be a key break of serve for 5-4 thanks to a sweet angled return.
Serving for the match Roger shook off a double fault to send down an Ace for 40-15 but couldn't convert as Del Potro made deuce. The Swiss then had to save a break point with some stunning defence and was able to fashion his third match point but again faltered thanks to a daft drop shot as Del Potro won three points in a row to level at 5-5.
The Tower of Tandil promptly held for 6-5 before Roger matched him with a love hold to send things into a breaker. Del Potro won his opening point and then reeled off four more points in a row aided by a Federer double fault. Another double fault at 1-5 gave Del Potro five match points and he was able to close it out the second time of asking to win his first Masters 1000 final.
|Juan Martin Del Potro||Roger Federer|
|1st Serve||63% (72/115)||61% (70/115)|
|1st Serve Points Won||75% (54/72)||74% (52/70)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||67% (29/43)||53% (24/45)|
|Break Points Saved||75% (3/4)||60% (3/5)|
|Service Games Played||17||17|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||26% (18/70)||25% (18/72)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||47% (21/45)||33% (14/43)|
|Break Points Converted||40% (2/5)||25% (1/4)|
|Net Points Won||48% (13/27)||69% (20/29)|
|Return Games Played||17||17|
|Service Points Won||72% (83/115)||66% (76/115)|
|Return Points Won||34% (39/115)||28% (32/115)|
|Total Points Won||53% (122/230)||47% (108/230)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
A dramatic final this one with a bit of everything from missed match points, crowd involvement, player + umpire clashes, momentum shifts and of course some high-quality points. Whenever a match goes to a third set breaker then whoever loses the match is going to feel hard done by but Roger will feel even more frustrated today having had three match points on his own serve at 5-4 in the third.
Somewhat disappointing to watch but this stuff happens in a game of fine margins and you can't win them all. The first two match points weren't ‘missed' but the drop shot on the third was, shall we say, ill-advised 😆 which is certainly frustrating. However, I was actually more disappointed at the tie-break as Federer went AWOL sending down two double faults and not really offering up much resistance. It looked like he'd got back in the groove after holding to love at 5-6 but in hindsight, he hadn't shaken off the emotional disappointment of the match points and once he got behind the eight ball in the breaker there was no coming back.
As for Del Potro, he deservedly wins his first Masters 1000 crown and barring a brief moment at the start of the third where he was clearly rattled with the crowd he was rock solid throughout. I don't think there was a whole lot separating the two but overall Del Potro was slightly the better player over the three sets. He was certainly miles better in set one as Roger's forehand was all over the shop and although the gap closed as the match wore on he did a stellar job on the big points at the end of the third and in the breaker to take home the title.
Anyway, the curtain closes in the Coachella Valley and next stop is Chicago for a Laver Cup promo followed by Miami. Time for Daniel Troxler to earn his crust of bread with some recovery work after two tough three-setters this weekend for the monogrammed maestro 🙂 Let me know your thoughts on the final in the comments below.