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Del Potro Stays Hot In 2018 • With Tough Win Over Raonic, Isner Also Advances to Miami Open Tennis

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in action against Milos Raonic of Canada during their quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE



By Ricky Dimon


Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six…. No, Juan Martin Del Potro’s winning streak is up to an incredible 15 matches.


That is the number Del Potro reached on Wednesday night, when the recent Acapulco and Indian Wells champion overcame Milos Raonic 5-7, 7-6(1), 7-6(3) during Miami Open quarterfinal action. The world No. 6 recovered from a set deficit and twice came back from a break down in the third before prevailing in two hours and 52 minutes.


“It was great tennis and a battle,” Del Potro said. “We both enjoyed the game and the crowd were amazing, making for an incredible atmosphere on court. I’m so glad to still be alive and reach the semifinals…. I always think this may be my last match (of the tournament), so I put in a lot of effort to give myself a chance to win. I’m pleased with my level of tennis and all my success, but of course I’d like to reach the final.”


For much of the way it looked like the 2009 U.S. Open winner would not even reach the semis. He donated serve at 5-6 to end the first set and eventually got broken right away in the third. Having not solved the Raonic serve all day long, Del Potro broke from out of nowhere at 0-1 and did the same at 1-2.


After the third set started with four straight breaks, order was finally restored en route to a tiebreaker. Raonic double-faulted on his initial service point–just as he had done in the second-set tiebreaker–and he never fully recovered. The Canadian soon found himself in a 5-1 hole and Del Potro eventually capitalized on his first match point with a clinching forehand winner.


Next up for the hottest player on the ATP Tour is a showdown with John Isner on Friday. It was Isner who halted Del Potro one match short of a spot in the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals and now it is Isner–again–who stands in Del Potro’s way of completing the Sunshine Double.


The 6’10” American punched his ticket to the final four by rolling over Hyeon Chung 6-1, 6-4 in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal. Isner delivered another dominant serving performance, blasting 13 aces without double-faulting and saving the only break point he faced.


This run has come unexpectedly for the 14th seed, who had been a dreadful 2-6 this season prior to Miami.


“I was in a good rhythm on the court,” Isner assured. “Obviously I was taking care of my serve, but I didn’t feel like today I needed to really red-line things out there and try to end the points so short. I felt like I could be patient from the baseline, because I was very happy with how I was playing and how I was moving. This is actually the best I’ve moved all year. That’s not working harder, or training harder off the court; that’s just from me being more confident on the court.


“It just goes to show that in tennis, in any sport really, you can appear to be down and out but if you keep the faith and keep plugging along and keep believing that good things are ahead, they’re actually going to come true. And that’s certainly been the case for me this week.”


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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