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21 March 2018, 07:57 | Nina Perez
KEVORK DJANSEZIAN GETTY IMAGES
Juan Martin del Potro celebrates beating Roger Federer to claim the PNB Baribas Open title at Indian Wells
This was the best match of the men's season so far and a breakthrough for the 29-year-old del Potro, who secured his first Masters 1000 title and his biggest individual victory since the US Open in 2009.
Juan Martin del Potro put in a phenomenal performance to sweep aside Milos Raonic en route to an Indian Wells Masters final against Roger Federer. "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, 7-6 in Sunday's championship match.
Del Potro is back in the top ten rankings this season for the first time since 2014 and he will move up to No 6 in the ATP standings today after his success.
The injury-prone big man has beaten Federer in seven of 25 attempts, including a famous triumph in the 2009 US Open final, but he has found it hard to reach those levels in recent years due to troubles with his body. Del Potro raced out of the gate with an aggressive, in-your-face game, gaining the first set lead.
Like the second, the third set also went into a tie break, with Federer spraying many errors and losing the match. Federer mishit a forehand high into the air beyond the baseline, giving del Potro another break point. "And then it goes very quickly in the breaker", Federer said.
Federer's five Indian Wells titles included previous year, when he beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka. And I'm excited to keep working.
Del Potro was competing in his first Indian Wells final since 2013, when he lost to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
But it still looked like it was Federer, who brought an unbeaten to the year start into the match, who was tightening his grip on the match.
In the match, Del Porto complained to the umpire about the noise from the crowd that was largely supporting Federer. "I am still surprising myself and I want to keep surprising the tennis tour", Del Potro said.
"The first thing is try to be healthy during the whole year and play where I like to play". I wouldn't be surprised if he adds another grand slam title "spoiler" to his list of accomplishments this year, especially playing with such a fearlessly big game like he did on Sunday. A challenge from Del Potro showed the Swiss' serve had landed out, prompting a frustrated Federer to vent at the chair umpire after his wild second serve landed more than a foot long.
Though Federer is seven years older than del Potro, they have a warm relationship off court and got to know each other better when Federer played del Potro in Argentina as part of a South American exhibition tour in 2012.
"Not much in between us, but you deserve it", the Swiss told del Potro at the trophy ceremony.
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