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del Potro Battles Past Verdasco In Thriller

Posted by on Nov 24th, 2009 and filed under  Top Stories, Latest News, Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro notched his first win of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Tuesday afternoon with a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Group A.

Del Potro, who lost to Murray in his first match Sunday, improved to a 1-1 record in the group table, while Verdasco, who was edged out by Roger Federer in his opener, dropped to a 0-2 mark. The 21-year-old del Potro is looking to reach the semi-finals at the season climax for the first time after going 1-2 in round-robin play on his debut in Shanghai last year.

Del Potro will now face Federer in his final round-robin match, a match he will likely need to win to progress to the semi-finals. “I played three sets again, I feel a little tired, but I can play more matches. Especially against Roger. I need the victory if I want to be in semis, so I will fight like today.”

Verdasco is making his debut at the season finale this year and reflected on two tough opening matches: “I feel I played good. But I also played against very good players. “It is not enough to play good tennis to beat these guys. You need to play good tennis and also play very good in the very important moments and not make mistakes.”

Del Potro has been hindered in recent weeks with an abdominal injury, forcing him to retire in the second round at the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000, presented by Rolex and the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (Bercy). However, after his opening match the Argentine said he felt good physically, was starting to play better and was growing in confidence. That much was certainly evident in his match with Verdasco.

Meeting for the first time at ATP World Tour-level, the players were largely inseparable in a keenly contested match that thrilled the crowd as both men played attacking, high-risk tennis throughout.

Del Potro made the faster start to the match, breaking serve to lead 2-1 as Verdasco hooked a forehand wide. The Tandil native was made to work hard to close out the one-set lead, saving two break points with aces out wide in the 10th game, before sealing it as Verdasco miscued a backhand wide.

With the crowd urging him on, Verdasco fought back strongly in the second set and his repeated assault on del Potro wore the Argentine down in the eighth game and he broke to lead 5-3 before levelling the match with an ace.

In a high-quality and gripping third set, both players continued to go for their shots and their many winners drew gasps of awe from the Centre Court crowd. Verdasco’s forehand was firing early on, but broke down in the sixth game and loose errors proved costly as he went down 0/40. Del Potro then converted his third break point opportunity as Hawk Eye ruled a Verdasco backhand had landed long.

Del Potro had his first chance to close out the match at 2-5, 30/40 on Verdasco’s serve, but the 6’6″ Argentine’s approach shot did not find the required depth and Verdasco was able to weave a backhand passing shot past the net-rushing del Potro. Buoyed by his escape, Verdasco then took advantage of nervous play by del Potro as he served for the match and broke back as the Argentine over hit a forehand.

Del Potro had a second opportunity for victory when he held match point as Verdasco served at 4-5, but the Spaniard stepped in to attack his backhand and reaped the reward as del Potro’s reply found the bottom of the net.

It took a tie-break to separate them and del Potro’s tighter, more controlled tennis was rewarded as he opened up a 6-1 lead, aided by ground-stroke errors from Verdasco. The right-hander then converted his first match point as Verdasco’s forehand landed wide of the mark after two hours and 24 minutes of play.

“I served much better than the other match (against Murray),” reflected del Potro. “I was very focused in the important moments, especially in the tie-break. And I took my opportunities. That’s what I have to do against Roger (Federer – in the final round-robin match).”

Del Potro, the youngest member of the Top 10, clinched his place at the season finale in dramatic style, defeating Roger Federer in an epic US Open final to win his first Grand Slam title. The Argentine has also titled this season at the Heineken Open (d. Querrery) in Auckland and the Legg Mason Tennis Classic (d. Roddick) in Washington and has compiled a 52-15 match record.

The 26-year-old Verdasco has enjoyed a career-best season, highlighted by reaching his first major semi-final at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal). The Madrid native, who has advanced to the quarter-finals or better in 13 tournaments this year, also won his third ATP World Tour title – and first on hard court – at Pilot Pen Tennis (d. Querrey) in New Haven.

Looking back on the deciding tie-break, Verdasco lamented: “I played badly and he didn’t make mistakes and I made quite a lot. He didn’t play even one ball long in the tie-break and I lost maybe four, not trying to go for the winner, but just to move him? He also served good few points. The tie-break was gone.

“It was pretty hard for me to lose that match after I recovered the first set and after I recovered the break with 5-3 on his serve. But I tried my best and I was really close.”

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