Flashback US Open: Juan Martin del Potro edges Roger Federer for first Major crown



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Flashback US Open: Juan Martin del Potro edges Roger Federer for first Major crown

The 19-year-old Juan Martin del Potro had a breakthrough season in 2008, winning 23 consecutive matches after Wimbledon and four titles before Andy Murray halted him in the US Open quarter-final in just under four hours. A year later, Juan Martin reached the semi-final at Roland Garros, defended the Washington crown and played in Montreal final before heading to the US Open as world no.

6 and one of the title favorites. With a favorable draw, del Potro reached the quarters where he toppled his coeval Marin Cilic in four sets to set the semi-final clash against Rafael Nadal. In what had been an amazing display of power, the Argentine defeated the great rival 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 20 minutes, never losing serve and dominated on serve and return to score two breaks in each set for a commanding triumph and the title clash against the five-time champion Roger Federer.

The Swiss prevailed against Novak Djokovic in the semi-final for his 40th straight win in New York, seeking the sixth consecutive crown to extend his domination at the season's last Major. On September 13, Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro played one of the greatest 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 and so far the only Major crown!

In the last three editions of this event, Roger had defeated Novak Djokovic three times and Andy Murray once (both born in 1987), but the 20-year-old Tandil native battled his way towards tennis glory, delivering Roger's first New York loss since 2003.

The Swiss had his chances, being two points away from taking sets two and four but not finding the way to cross the finish line first, with a brave Argentine 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. Still, 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 earn tennis glory.

Federer had 45 service winners and 11 double faults, while Juan Martin stayed on 36 direct points from serve, blasting winners from every position on the court and forcing many errors from Roger. Federer served at only 51%, which probably cost him the better result, fending off ten out of 15 break chances.

On the other hand, Juan Martin needed all of his experience and skills to repel 17 out of 22 break points, suffering five breaks just like Roger and arranging his breaks more effectively to emerge at the top. Roger converted his fifth break chance in the second game with an amazing forehand passing winner to take an early lead, taking advantage of his rival's struggle to find the first serve in those initial games, although he was even worse.

In 2009, Juan Martin del Potro claimed the first Major title at the US Open.

Juan Martin saved another break chance in game five and three more two games later to prolong the set. Federer closed the opener with an ace at 5-3, and this gave him a massive boost ahead of the rest of the clash, as the winner of the last 16 US Open finals grabbed 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 but wasted three break opportunities, with Federer bringing the game home with a service winner to open a 3-1 gap, reducing Delpo to only four forehand winners so far.

The Argentine repelled two break points at 1-3 to keep himself within one break deficit, still unable to find the way to break Roger who held for a 5-3 advantage. Serving for the set at 5-4, Federer got broken for the first time when Juan Martin passed him 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 out of sudden, he was there to compete, showing why he reached the title match and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash. 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, as he got broken in game eight 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. Juan Martin put himself in a very tough position ahead of the rest of the encounter, 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 got broken at love in the fifth game, sending an easy forehand long and allowing Juan Martin to move 4-2 in front with a much-needed easy 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, also with momentum on his side. The Swiss saved two break points 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, and it was the tie break to decide the winner of this set. The youngster was more composed in the crucial points, taking the breaker 7-4 when Roger hit a wild forehand, sending the US Open final into a decider for the first time 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, repelling a break point in the next game to open up a 3-0 gap. Both players served well in the next four games, leaving del Potro on a 5-2 lead.

Serving to stay in the match and avoid the first New York loss in 2200 days, Roger saved two match points to extend his chances of making a comeback. Nonetheless, del Potro converted his third match point to fall to the ground in disbelief, celebrating the proudest moment in a career just before his 21st birthday.