Tennis

Federer: Del Potro fought like a lion

Swiss maestro admits he didn't deserve to beat the 24th-seeded Argentinian

Roger Federer, foiled once again one match away from a first-ever US Open match against Rafael Nadal, said that he just didn't deserve to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the rematch of their epic 2009 final.

The Swiss third seed and 19-time Grand Slam champion was sent packing by Argentine 24th seed del Potro 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 28-year-old del Potro meets world No. 1 Nadal tomorrow morning for a berth in Monday morning's final.

"I feel I have no place in the semis and he will have a better chance to beat Rafa, to be honest," Federer said.

"The way I played or am playing right now, it's not good enough in my opinion to win this tournament.

"It's better I'm out and somebody else gets a chance to do better than me."

On the same court where del Potro ended Federer's five-year title run and 40-match winning streak, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion said: "Juan Martin fought like a lion."

And the ruined possible first-ever New York match-up between Federer and Nadal, which had been a focus of attention heading into the match, was an afterthought to Federer in the wake of a comprehensive loss.

"I didn't even think about it as I lost that match, that it's not going to happen," the Swiss said.

“If I ran into a good guy, I was going to lose... I just felt that way every single match I went into.” Roger Federer on his US Open form

"I'm dealing with just trying to understand what happened and just to overcome this in the next few hours, days, weeks, whatever it is. I'll be fine.

"Of course it is a pity, but Juan Martin deserves it more."

Federer said in some ways he wasn't disappointed because he knew his game was weaker than it looked, having been aided by playing three rivals in a row who have a combined 0-40 record against him.

"If I ran into a good guy, I was going to lose, I felt," Federer said. "I don't want to say I was in negative mindset, but I knew going in that I'm not in a safe place.

"Might have depended too much on my opponent, and I don't like that feeling. I had it throughout the tournament, and I just felt that way every single match I went into."

The 36-year-old made 41 unforced errors, nine more than his rival, and some of them were woefully off target and well off the court.

"I tried until the very end," Federer said.

"And smashing certain stuff into the net that I normally wouldn't, smashing forehand volleys into the back fence, I mean, that stuff sucked.

"You know, honestly, it was terrible."

Federer's 60 winners were 12 more than del Potro, whose blistering serves and electric forehand winners took their toll.

"He came up with the goods when he needed to and I helped him a little bit sometimes too maybe," Federer said.

"But he was better today, especially on the big points."

As for his four squandered set-points in the tie-breaker, Federer said: "I don't think those four points made all the difference. I missed too many balls."

The Swiss veteran said that he isn't too crushed over the disappointing defeat after winning two Grand Slam titles this year.

"It should hurt, and it does, rightfully so, but I think my perspective at this age and with the season I've had, (it) is easier to grasp faster, so I'll be fine quickly," Federer said.

"Sure, I would have liked to do more here, especially with the year that I had. It has been tough, you know, so it's all right." - AFP

WHAT'S GONE

Men's singles quarter-finals

  • Rafael Nadal (x1) bt Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
  • Juan Martin del Potro (x24) bt Roger Federer (x3) 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4

Women's singles quarter-finals

  • Coco Vandeweghe (x20) bt Karolina Pliskova (x1) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
  • Madison Keys (x15) bt Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3.
Roger FedererUS OPENTennis