From the start of Indian Wells, the seventh seed didn’t have an easy ride. His first challenger appeared in the second round, as the top 20 seeds got a bye through the first.
The Build Up:
His opposition was in the form of Nikolay Davydenko, the world number 42. The 31 year-old was previously number 3, but as he has aged, he has become a little less agile. Still, it was a tough first match for the Argentinian giant, with both sets being dominated by the server, but DelPo winning the odd break, meaning he won the match 6-3, 6-4 – and relatively untroubled.
In the next round he came up against Bjorn Phau. The 33 year-old German was dismissed with relative ease, even though the 121 ranked player put up a fight in the second set, gaining a fair few breaks. But in the end, the match was only going to go one way – del Potro (who was on this occasion about six inches taller) won 6-2, 7-5.
The next opponent was another German; 19th seeded Tommy Haas. He was, on paper, far more formiddable opposition, but he had had a gruelling 3 set, 33 game match with Spaniard Nicolas Almagro the night before. Meaning fatigue played a large part. He was quickly beaten in less than half the time. The Argentine progressed having won 6-1, 6-2 and therefore high on confidence.
He had 1-5 record going into his quarter-final match with Andy Murray, with the Brit winning all four of their previous hard court matches. But, having not played each other for nearly 3 1/2 years (the last time was at the 2009 World Tour Finals), anything could happen. It was a tightly contested match, with the final score being 6-7, 6-3, 6-1. In the first they both played with tremendous fluecy and variety, but in the second the Scotsman’s serves seemed to drop off a bit, meaning 6’6″ del Potro could gain control of the rally and win the point. Murray couldn’t do the same, as serving becomes considerably easier with height. Then, in the final set Andy was morally demolished, and only held serve once.
However, there is no doubt that his match with the top seed, Novak Djokovic, who had a 22 match winning record, was by far the toughest. In this round the head-to-head record was again against him, 3-8. Also, all four of their most recent meetings, all on hard court, had been won by the Serb. This one was close though, Delpo winning 101 points in total, and the Djoker 100 points. But that’s not how tennis works.
In the opening set Del Potro was beaten by the pure power of Djokovic, but was broken only once, and it still looked even. The Argentine lost the opening set 6-4. However, next came the second, and now del Potro opened up a bit, and using a clever backhand slice with which he used to beat Andy Murray, he beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 in the second set.
But pendulum of momentum swung back in favour of Djokovic, and he held serve, and broke del Potro’s serve. Soon, he was 3-0 down. “I was doing a very good match until the third set, but Novak had the chance to beat me when I was down 3-0,” said the number seven. “But I came back soon and that gave me a little confidence to come back in that set.” Yet, according to Djokovic, del Potro was “more composed” under pressure, and his perfect forehand enabled him to fight back and win the final set 6-4.
Next, he meets another surprise finalist in the form of Rafael Nadal in a match for 1000 ATP points that could move del Potro up to sixth, or Nadal up to fourth. Could del Potro beat the world number 1, 3 and 5 in one tournament? Tell us what you think!