Juan Martin del Potro came to Indian Wells in a great form, winning his first ATP 500 title since 2014 in Acapulco and playing well in the desert to earn the place in his fourth Masters 1000 final, the first since Shanghai 2013.
Between the Argentine and the title stood world number 1 and defending champion Roger Federer and Juan Martin gave his best to prevail 6-4 6-7 7-6 in 2 hours and 42 minutes, claim the title in one of the best finals at this level in the last 10 years! Roger suffered his first defeat in 2018 (17-1) and it could have been much different if he had managed to convert any of three match points he had at 5-4 in the deciding set on own serve.
Del Potro fends them off to prolong the match and his chances and he prevailed in the tie break 7-2 to lift the second biggest title of his career after the US Open 2009, beating Roger for the seventh time in 25 matches. This was the first Masters 1000 win for Juan Martin over Roger, losing the previous seven encounters and he earned it after saving three out of four break points and with a better second serve display, winning 14 points more than his rival.
The Argentine tamed his shots nicely, hitting 42 winners and 24 unforced errors while Roger stood on 51-45, making too many mistakes from his backhand wing. Juan Martin made the best possible start, claiming the opening set 6-4 with a break at love in game five, controlling the pace from the baseline and using that opportunity he got in the only loose service game from Roger.
Federer saved two break points at the start of the second set and he served well after that to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Del Potro had to work hard to reach the tie break, fending off two set points in game 10 and turning this epic final into a roller coaster ride.
Roger wasted four set points at 6-3 and 7-6 and he had to save a match point at 7-8, keeping his focus to stay in the match. He earned a crucial mini-break in the 18th point to grab the breaker 10-8, sending the match into a decider and seizing the momentum before set number three.
Juan Martin had left that match point behind him and he stayed neck and neck with Roger in the first eight games of the decider before he got broken at 4-4, allowing Roger to serve for the title in the following game. He had three match points but del Potro found the way to repel them all and break back, setting up another tie break that was the best way to determine the winner in this epic clash.
He had the drive now and he raced into a 5-0 lead to run away from Roger, sealing the deal on his third match point at 6-2 to lift the precious trophy and write his name on the Masters 1000 winners list. With these 1000 points, Juan Martin will return into the Top 6 tomorrow for the first time since February 2014, and he is ready for more success in the rest of the season if he keeps this level of tennis.