Federer edges past Del Potro in record breaking semi-final

Roger Federer has qualified for the Gold Medal match at the Olympics after an extraordinary semi final victory over the Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro winning  an Olympics record 4 hour and 26 minutes epic 3-6 7-6(5) 19-17. The World No.1 broke vitally in game 35 of the third set to set himself up for the victory.

Del Potro had been written off by most pre-match, with the 6-0 head to head since Delpo’s return from injury sticking out like a sore thumb while many felt that the Argentinian was not the same player that took the US Open title three years ago defeating the very same opponent as today. After a straight forward start where the pair exchanged holds to 15, it looked like Federer would be on his way to 7-0 with some ease when he earned himself a break point in the third game of the set. In what was to be recurring theme throughout most of the match, Del Potro got himself out of trouble with a mixture of poor returning and big serving to hold, with Federer vitally slicing the break point return long.

After this, it was only Federer being in danger on serve as he faced lost the first point in both games 6 and 8. While he was fortunate enough to get out of a 0-30 hole in the first instance, he was not so lucky the second time. Ironically, after his match point against Isner yesterday, a lucky net cord at 15-30 caused the Swiss to put a tough running-backwards backhand volley long. Del Potro took advantage of the second break point, forcing Federer deep with a powerful backhand that the No.1 could not return. The set was sealed as a great display of serving earned Del Potro a love hold and the set 6-3.

While Del Potro faded in his most recent encounter at Roland Garros as time went on, it didn’t seem to show here as he held his own in rallies and had a slight look-in in game 1 at 30-30 showcasing his huge forehand. The pair exchanged straight forward holds as serve began to become even more dominant. Much like the first set, it was Del Potro doing the damage but this time he failed to convert break points this time as Federer delivered more clutch serves to eventually hold. It looked like he would pay as a slack forehand long gave Federer another chance to break, but he failed to convert as a huge serve set up Del Potro for the open court forehand which he took easily. Excellent play at the net finally sealed the game to tie it up again.

With serve continuing to remain dominant throughout, a tie break looked a certainty. Bar the 4-4 game, where Federer rescued a break point after being 40-0 up with big serving, there was little to threaten that and so a tie break would decide whether this went three or Del Potro would be a silver medalist at worst.

Federer took control early with a mini-break for 2-1, Del Potro unable to return with any conviction after Federer had hit the baseline dead on. He had a chance to earn it straight back but his trusted forehand let him down at the vital moment as he put a gimme wide. After an ace had given him a 4-1 lead, a mix of poor returning and at 4-3 a dodgy volley tied it up. Federer won a lengthy point to go 5-4 up, which he ended with a comprehensive smash with Del Potro way off the court. Federer finally earned set points after a disappointing back hand from Del Potro who had controlled the point, and took the second with an ace to tie it up.

After the disappointment of the tiebreak, Del Potro had chances early on to redeem himself as he earned two break points. Unfortunately both were wasted as a vital slip on the second gave Federer an easy put away before eventually holding.

That was the last Del Potro saw of the Federer serve as he held comfortably time after time, while Del Potro’s service games looked ready to buckle at any moment but clutch play avoided breaks at 3-3 and 4-4 as the serve-forehand combo continued to work wonders.

After missing break points in the fifteenth game and going up 0-30 in the seventeenth (where Del Potro started the comeback with an incredible diving volley winner) but not breaking, Federer finally made the break through in game nineteen. Two double faults did not help his cause, and the break was sealed when Del Potro hit well long at 30-40.

Having broke for the first time, it looked as if it would be straight forward for the Swiss who had looked dominant on serve all set after the early break points had been saved. A shank started the rot as he served for the match and when the net took his shot and dropped it wide, Del Potro had got the break back to love. This turned out just to be a blip, as Federer had no such issues next time out, holding to love, finishing off with one of his trademark drop shots.

When Federer took a 0-40 lead in the twenty-ninth game of the set, it looked surely over. However, Del Potro had other ideas as the forehand wound up once more to assist him in a vital hold.

When Federer next held a 0-40 lead, he would not be so unfortunate. A netted backhand on the second break point gave Federer the opportunity to serve for a place in the Gold Medal match at 18-17.

Federer double faulted to bring up 15-30 and perhaps raised some concern with the wary centre court crowd who had witnessed this marathon match. He brought up match point when Del Potro hit way long but he failed to take it after dumping a poor volley into the net.

At the second time of asking, a beautiful slice into the corner of the court was too much for the tall Argentinian who couldn’t get it back to give Federer the victory and a minimum silver medal – the first for his country these games.

While Juan Martin Del Potro did not take victory here, this was a huge step in the right direction for him. Holding his own on grass with Roger Federer was extremely impressive and he deserved a lot of credit. More than just a serve and huge forehand, Del Potro showcased it all from an excellent array of backhands to some brilliant volleys at the net – none more so than his diving one midway through set three. If he can transfer this form to a five set tournament there is no reason why he cannot deliver a repeat of his 2009 US Open victory.

Federer will take on Andy Murray in a rematch of the Wimbledon final after the Brit defeated Novak Djokovic 7-5 7-5, breaking in game 12 of both sets.

Stats
Aces RF 24 JMDP 11
First Serve % RF 68% JMDP 70%
First Serve Points Won % RF 75% JMDP 72%
Winners RF 64 JMDP 51
Unforced Errors RF 41 JMDP 34
Net Points Won % RF 63% JMDP 71%
Total Points Won RF 186 JMDP 180

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2 Responses to Federer edges past Del Potro in record breaking semi-final

  1. Pingback: Olympics Tennis Roundup « Ace of Baseline

  2. Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you
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