TENNIS • 10SBALLS SHARES RICKY’S BEST ATP MATCHES OF 2017: NO. 4 IS DEL POTRO VS. THIEM AT THE U.S. OPEN

Written by: on 11th December 2017
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TENNIS • 10SBALLS SHARES RICKY'S BEST ATP MATCHES OF 2017: NO. 4 IS DEL POTRO VS. THIEM AT THE U.S. OPEN

epa06184266 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  |

Ricky’s best ATP matches of 2017: No. 4 is Del Potro vs. Thiem at the U.S. Open

 

By Ricky Dimon

Over the next week, Ricky is counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It continues at No. 4, with a wild U.S. Open five-setter between Juan Martin Del Potro and Dominic Thiem. Del Potro came back from the dead to stun Thiem and eventually reach the semifinals following a quarterfinal upset of Roger Federer.

 

 

U.S. Open fourth round: Juan Martin Del Potro d. Dominic Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4

 

Nobody on tour plays a higher percentage of instant classics than Juan Martin Del Potro. Unfortunately for the tennis world, the sample size of those classics is smaller that it should be because injuries have decimated Del Potro’s total number of matches over the last seven or so years.

 

It appeared that physical problems would also deprive an enthralled Grandstand crowd of any kind of U.S. Open epic between Del Potro and Thiem on the second Monday of the tournament. According to commentator Darren Cahill, Del Potro “looked like death” while practicing a day earlier. The Argentine looked the same 24 hours later while taking a mere three total games throughout the first two sets against Thiem.

 

Retirement was seemingly inevitable…. Well, it would have been perhaps at any other tournament or in any other setting.

 

“I was trying to retire (from) the match in the second set,” Del Potro said following the match. “I was thinking to retire in the middle of the second set because I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t move well. Then I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands (and) good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fight and not retire.”

 

Good forehands? Good serves? Those would be gross understatements. Digging deep to find energy that had previously been nowhere to be found, Del Potro dominated the third set with the loss of only one game. A crazy fourth set saw the 24th seed fight off two match points at 5-6, both with aces.

 

It was all Del Potro the rest of the way. The 2009 U.S. Open champion stormed through the fourth-set tiebreaker seven points to one, closing it out with a cross-court winner that looked to more like a rocket-launch than a normal tennis forehand. Thiem at least managed to make the decider competitive, surviving a 0-40 hole at 2-3 and staying on serve until 4-5, but the eighth-ranked Austrian ultimately could not recover from having squandered such a massive lead. He helped Del Potro cross the finish line of the amazing comeback with a double-fault–that he unsuccessfully challenged–on match point at 4-5, ad-out.

 

“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 commented. “That’s what I did with my hands, looking the sky (after I won). But I’m so glad to go through. [I played] a fantastic battle against one of the best players of the tour.

 

“It was a great atmosphere,” Thiem admitted. “I mean, we’re not playing every day in an atmosphere like this…. Of course the crowd was on his side. It was very loud; obviously way more for him. But still, I like sports where there’s a great atmosphere, so I enjoyed a lot to play out there today.”

 

“The third set was bad. I mean, I played some really bad minutes. It was a great match I think, set four and set five. Obviously [it was a] better end for him.”

 

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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