Struggling with a right knee injury, Juan Martin del Potro hasn't played since Queen's last year, undergoing two surgeries and recovering at home. Due to a coronavirus, the entire tennis season is halted at least until July, with players finding the best way to spend the days at home and entertain themselves and their fans.
Juan Martin del Potro had a live chat with his supporters on Saturday, watching the replay of his amazing victory over Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final and admitting he still feels nervous while watching the clash, 11 years following the greatest moment of his career so far.
On September 13, 2009, Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro played one of the most memorable US Open finals, with the youngster prevailing 3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in four hours and six minutes to lift the first Major crown!
In the last three editions of this event, Roger had defeated Novak Djokovic three times and Andy Murray once, with another youngster proving to be too tough to handle on that day, ending Roger's reign in New York for good.
The 20-year-old from Tandil battled his way towards tennis glory, beating a five-time defending champion and a man who had been undefeated in New York since 2003. The Swiss had his chances, being two points away from taking sets two and four but not finding his best tennis when it mattered the most and the way to cross the finish line first, with a brave Argentine keeping hammering his forehands towards his rival (30+ winners from that wing alone), enduring all the pressure to secure a victory in the deciding set.
Roger had never lost against Juan Martin in the previous six meetings but that streak had to come to its end eventually, with del Potro refusing to surrender and passing all the obstacles with his mighty forehand to write his name in the history books.
Federer had 45 service winners but also 11 double faults while Juan Martin stayed on 36 direct points from serve, blasting winners from all the positions on the court and forcing a lot of errors from Roger. Federer served at only 51%, which probably cost him the better result, fending off ten out of 15 break chances to stay in touch before losing steam in the decider.
On the other hand, Juan Martin needed all of his knowledge and skills to repel 17 out of 22 break chances, suffering five breaks just like Roger and arranging his successful return games more effectively to emerge at the top.
Federer converted his fifth break chance in the second game with a fantastic forehand passing winner to grab an early lead, taking advantage of the fact that his rival struggled to find the first serve in those first games, although the Swiss was even worse in that segment.
Juan Martin saved another break chance in game five and three more two games later to prolong the set before Federer closed the opener with an ace at 5-3, earning a massive boost ahead of the rest of the clash, with the winner of the last 16 US Open finals taking the opening set!
Juan Martin hit a double fault to suffer a break at the beginning of set number two, having to raise his level significantly if he wanted to get back on track and play a more important role in this final. He had a chance to break back in game four, wasting three break chances and allowing Federer to bring the game home with a service winner and open a 3-1 gap, leaving Delpo at only four forehand winners so far in the encounter.
The Argentine repelled two break chances at 1-3 to keep himself within one break deficit, having to serve for staying in the set at 3-5. He held in that ninth game and broke Federer for the first time with a great forehand winner to level the score at 5-5, producing a real game-changer as he would have stood no chances if he had lost this set.
Del Potro took the tie break 7-4, clinching the set with a forehand winner and showing why he reached the title match, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash with the momentum on his side. Since the second part of that second set, Juan Martin started to serve better and keep the pressure on Roger who folded in the seventh game of the third set, losing serve to trail 4-3.
Delpo's lead was a short-lived one, though, getting broken a few minutes later before creating another break chance in the next game that could have sent him in front again. Federer hit three service winners in a row to dismiss it and take a 5-4 lead, forcing his rival to serve to stay in the set.
It ended in the worst possible way for the youngster who double-faulted in that tenth game to send Roger two sets to one in front, putting himself in a very tough position ahead of the fourth set, facing 17 break chances so far and suffering four breaks .
One of the pivotal moments of the entire final accrued in the second game of the fourth set when del Potro repelled two break chances with forehand winners, and another one in game four in the same style to hang in there and stay alive.
After missing his opportunities, Roger suffered a break at love at 2-2, sending an easy forehand long and allowing Juan Martin to move 4-2 in front with a much-needed comfortable hold after experiencing troubles in the previous games.
Federer managed to break back in game eight, though, leveling the score at 4-4 and moving just two games away from the triumph, with the boost on his side of the court. The Swiss saved two break opportunities in the 11th game, bringing the game home with an ace and leaving del Potro to serve to stay in the match.
He did that perfectly without losing a point, setting the tie break that would decide the winner of this set. The youngster was more composed in the crucial points yet again, taking the breaker 7-4 when Roger hit a wild forehand and sending the clash into the fifth set for the first time at the US Open in ten years.
Del Potro had the strings of the match in his hands now, breaking in the second game of the final set with another forehand winner and repelling a break chance in the next game to open a 3-0 gap. Both players served well in the next four games, with del Potro keeping a 5-2 lead and forcing Roger to serve for staying in the final.
Undefeated at the US Open for 2200 days, Roger saved two match points to extend his chances of making a comeback, offering the third to del Potro who seized it to become the champion, falling to the ground in disbelief and celebrating the proudest moment in a career just before the 21st birthday.