Washington, March 19 (IANS) Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro captured his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, becoming the 2018 BNP Paribas Open men’s singles champion with a victory over No.1 Roger Federer.
In one of the best matches of the season, del Potro, who beat Federer at the US Open last year, erased three match points against the five-time champion 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2) and took home $1.3 million winner’s check on Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.
In the third set, defending champion Federer broke for a chance to serve for the match at 4-4. But this time it was Del Potro’s turn to save match points as he erased three during Federer’s 5-4 service game, including two consecutively from 15/40 down.
It was the first since 2014 to go to a third-set tie-break.
The No. 8 won the first five points of the third set tiebreaker, then closed it out when Federer missed a forehand long, ending a two-hour, 42-minute marathon contest on the main stadium court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The 29-year-old Argentine returned to the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time since 2013 when he fell to Rafael Nadal in the title match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I’m still shaking, I’m so nervous,” del Potro told ESPN on court after the match. “It’s like a dream. It’s difficult to describe with words.
“After all my problems, after all my surgeries, I couldn’t believe I’m here winning a Masters 1000 and beating Roger. It’s amazing.”
The 36-year-old Swiss superstar Federer was into the final in Indian Wells for the fourth straight time, having missed the event in 2016.
“It was a great match, honestly,” Federer said.
“Juan Martin was a bit better at the end. It was maybe a point here or there, maybe a shot, maybe a forehand, maybe a chip. So that’s how it goes. It’s unfortunate but I’m happy for him. Well done to him.”
Federer was handed his first loss of 2018, now 17-1. He has 27 career ATP Masters 1000 titles and has held the No. 1 spot a record 306 weeks, as of 12 March.
“I hung tough and put a lot of effort into it to get the record,” he said.