Indian Wells Flashback: Juan Martin del Potro edges Novak Djokovic

Juan Martin del Potro needed almost three hours to beat Novak Djokovic in the 2013 semi-final

by Jovica Ilic
Indian Wells Flashback: Juan Martin del Potro edges Novak Djokovic

Seven out of the top eight seeds reached the 2013 Indian Wells quarter-final. Juan Martin del Potro ousted Andy Murray and set the semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic. Juan Martin defeated world no. 1 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes of a grueling battle, delivering his third victory over the Serb in 11 encounters.

Djokovic lost in the semi-final in the desert for the second straight year. Also, he suffered his first defeat in the Masters 1000 semi-final after winning the opening set since Shanghai 2009. Del Potro won one point more than Djokovic, an excellent illustration of the battle's tightness.

The Argentine fended off seven out of 11 break chances. He earned five breaks from 12 opportunities to cross the finish line first and advance into his second Masters 1000 final, the first since Canada 2009. Novak had more winners and errors, building the upper hand in the more extended exchanges.

However, Juan Martin erased the deficit in the shortest rallies to stay in touch and move over the top.

Juan Martin del Potro bounced back to beat Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells 2013.

Both players held with a service winner in the opening games.

Novak produced the one from his forehand to open a 2-1 gap and served well in game five to remain in front. The Argentine worked hard in the eighth game. He fended off four break chances and held after an unreturned serve to level the score at 4-4.

Del Potro struggled again two games later, saving two more break opportunities at 4-5 before Djokovic converted the next one to seal the opener 6-4 after 52 minutes. Juan Martin made a better start in set number two and stole Novak's serve in the first game after the Serb's forehand error.

Djokovic broke back in game two to erase the deficit and return to the positive side. Defending his backhand nicely, Juan Martin landed a winner from the left wing to grab another break in game three and confirmed it with a forehand winner that sent him 3-1 in front.

Another bullet from his forehand sent del Potro 5-2 up, and he wasted a set point on his serve in the next game. Djokovic extended the battle and pulled one break back with a return winner for 3-5. The Serb grabbed the ninth game with a service winner before spraying a backhand mistake at 4-5 to hand the set to his rival.

Del Potro leveled the overall score after an hour and 50 minutes, with more to come in the decider. Ready to start all over, a former champion clinched a break in the final set's second game with a deep return. Novak held after a couple of deuces in game three to open a 3-0 advantage and move closer to the finish line.

The drama was on again when del Potro pulled the break back in the fifth game. The Argentine held at love with a service winner a few minutes later to level the score at 3-3 and gather momentum. Djokovic repelled two break chances in game seven to avoid a further downfall and missed a chance to move 5-4 up. Novak squandered a game point at 4-4 and experienced a costly break that pushed Juan Martin in front.

Serving for the victory in the tenth game, the Argentine blasted an ace to wrap up the encounter and set the title clash against Rafael Nadal.

Indian Wells Juan Martin Del Potro Novak Djokovic