Tennis

Del Potro's back-to-back titles

Argentinian shocks world No. 1 Federer in Indian Wells Masters to add to Acapulco victory

Juan Martin del Potro, once one of tennis' hottest young talents before his career was derailed by injuries, won the Indian Wells Masters yesterday (Singapore time) two years after almost quitting in frustration.

The 29-year-old from Argentina handed Federer his first match defeat of 2018 and extended his own win streak to 11 matches, including a title run earlier this month at Acapulco.

"I couldn't imagine this moment. I mean, everybody knows I was really close to quitting tennis before my third surgery on my left wrist," said del Potro after upsetting world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/2) in the final.

"I made a big effort to come back. I have everything what I want, and I want to keep improving my game to see what can I do.

"I had very bad moments a few years ago and I don't want to think about that any more.

"I am just enjoying my life and playing around the world. I am excited to see what is next."

World No. 8 del Potro is back in the top 10 rankings this season for the first time since 2014.

He dropped to No. 1,045 before beginning his comeback from the left wrist surgeries in 2016.

He says he is not thinking about his ranking and just wants to keep up the pace as long as he can.

"Well, it's so big. I cannot believe I won this tournament, beating Roger in a great final and level of tennis," he said of his first win in an Indian Wells final and second straight ATP title in a row.

"I don't care about the numbers. I just want to keep winning titles like this if I can.

"But the first thing is try to be healthy during the whole year and play where I like to play.

"Now I have to do a smart schedule on clay to feel 100 per cent for the rest of the season."

Del Potro will now head to south Florida with the other ATP players to compete in the Miami Masters.

He wants to stay silent on his celebration plans but did say he is saving something special for when he gets to Miami.

"I cannot tell you," he joked of his party plans. "It will be Miami, maybe tomorrow, but that's enough."

Del Potro also won the title earlier this month in Acapulco, where he beat three top-eight players in a row to clinch his 21st singles crown.

Asked yesterday if beating the world No. 1 in Indian Wells and winning consecutive finals is a sign that he is back, he said: "I don't know. Maybe I'm in better shape, because few years ago I never win a title like this.

"I'm surprising myself. I don't like to compare this time with few years ago, but I'm just enjoying what I have to do every day.

"And it's like a surprising life to me, and I'm so happy for that."

Federer blasted 10 aces but had five double-faults and his serve was broken twice.

"It should sting," Federer said. "The question is how long? It is disappointing talking about a great match like this and losing."

Federer, who was seeking his record sixth Indian Wells title, saved one match-point in the second-set tie-breaker and another in the third-set tie-breaker before finally succumbing to del Potro's relentless attack.

"You move on. There's no time to dwell over it," Federer said.

"I see the positives at the end of the day."

Federer, the oldest world No. 1 in ATP history at 36, entered the final having dropped just one set, that in a difficult semi-final test from Croatia's Borna Coric.

"I lost my serve a little bit, and then he was clean and I wasn't. And then it goes very quickly in the breaker," Federer said.

"As close as it can be sometimes when you're not feeling it or momentum has shifted, it's just crazy how it can go the other way." - REUTERS, AFP

Tennis