INDIAN WELLS — Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro stunned top-ranked Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/2) Sunday to win his first Indian Wells title and second consecutive ATP crown.
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’m still shaking,” Del Potro said. “It’s difficult to describe with words. It’s like a dream.”
Del Potro, nagged by wrist injuries throughout his career, survived three match points before claiming the championship in a third-set tie-breaker, ending a two hour, 42 minute marathon contest.
“After all my problems, after all my surgeries, I couldn’t believe I’m here winning a Masters 1000 and beating Roger,” Del Potro said. “It’s amazing.”
Del Potro won the first five points of the deciding tie-breaker then closed it out when Swiss superstar Federer smacked a forehand long.
Del Potro was competing in his first Indian Wells final since 2013, when he lost to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
It was only Del Potro’s seventh victory over Federer in 25 career meetings.
“I always play good against him. I won a couple of finals and lost a couple of finals. In the end I was lucky to win. We played great tennis today,” Del Potro said.
World number eight Del Potro is back in the rankings top 10 after dropping to 1,045th before beginning his comeback from three left wrist surgeries in 2016.
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 fell to 17-1 on the season, having won a career-best 17 consecutive matches to start a calendar year.
Federer, the oldest world number one 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.
Federer’s five Indian Wells titles included last year, when he beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka. — AFP