ENCORE! FEDERER AND DEL POTRO TO RENEW RIVALRY IN U.S. OPEN TENNIS QUARTERS

Written by: on 5th September 2017
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US Open Tennis Tournament 2017
ENCORE! FEDERER AND DEL POTRO TO RENEW RIVALRY IN U.S. OPEN TENNIS QUARTERS

epa06184279 Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany on the eighth day of the US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 04 September 2017. The US Open runs through September 10. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES  |

By Ricky Dimon

 

Encore! Encore!

 

Roger Federer may lead the head-to-head series 16-5, but it does not get much between than Federer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro. And let’s be honest; 16-5 is actually close when it comes to Federer.

 

Just ask Andy Roddick. Or Roberto Bautista Agut. Or countless others–including three guys Federer has already defeated at this year’s U.S. Open (he is now 17-0 vs. Mikhail Youzhny, 13-0 vs. Feliciano Lopez, and 12-0 vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber. Most players would kill to be 5-16 against Federer.

 

And the Fed-Delpo rivalry has been even better than the 16-5 suggests. From the 2012 French Open through the end of 2013, all seven of their matches went to final sets. So, too, did their epic 2009 U.S. Open final: won by the Argentine 3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 triumph. Federer has had some absolutely massive wins, as well: twice in five at Roland Garros (2009 and 2012) and 19-17 in the third at the 2012 London Olympics.

 

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina hits a return to Dominic Thiem of Austria on the eighth day of the US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 04 September 2017. The US Open runs through September 10. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Speaking of final sets, Del Potro was nothing short of ridiculous on Monday. Looking like “death” due to illness (commentator Darren Cahill’s words), the 28-year-old appeared to be down and out after listlessly losing the first two sets against Dominic Thiem. But out of nowhere Del Potro roared back for a 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 success.

 

“I [played] one of the epic [matches] of my career here in the U.S. Open, which is my favorite tournament, in front of a great crowd,” Del Potro reflected. “I’m so glad to go through.”

 

Federer echoed similar sentiments after each of his first two matches, glad simply with getting through even though his performances were not GOAT-like. Clearly due to a lingering back issue, the 36-year-old needed five sets to beat both Frances Tiafoe and Mikhail Youzhny. Feeling better and once again getting into a grove as an event progressed, Federer raised his level to roll past both Feliciano Lopez and Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets.

 

Thus after a total of 30 total sets played between them, another Federer-Del Potro showdown is upon us.

 

“Everybody loves him,” Del Potro said. “(It) is going to be (an) interesting match. It will be after eight years again in the [center] court of this tournament. I know how to play if I want to win, but I will see how physically I feel after this battle. But always (it) is a pleasure to play the greatest guy [in] history.”

 

“It’s just really nice to see him back playing these kind of matches,” Federer offered. “That’s what he came back for, to get crowd support the way he got it. We could even hear it on center court…. He’s a good guy. I know him well. So I’m really happy for him. It’s a good match to look forward to; reminds me clearly of the 2009 finals that we had, which was an epic. I hope we can produce another good one.”

 

Regardless, the atmosphere should be insane. The three best crowds so far at this U.S. Open have been for Federer vs. Tiafoe, Federer vs. Youzhny, and Del Potro vs. Thiem. All were absolutely raucous. The fans live and die on ever point with these two guys. Federer even said after beating Kohlschreiber that he could easily hear what was transpiring on the Grandstand between Del Potro and Thiem. For those wondering, that’s loud. It takes a lot to get through the massive walls of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

This one, of course, will be in Ashe. At night. Buckle your seatbelts.

 

Ricky’s pick: Federer in 4

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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