Chaos and calculations as DelPo ends Murray’s WTF
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:51
One game. A single band of four points. That was all that separated Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro at the end of the Group A round robin matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after the Argentine posted a 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 victory over world No.1 Roger Federer.
But the US Open champ’s victory was overshadowed by the chaotic scenes at the end of the match when nobody courtside could confirm that del Potro had indeed edged Andy Murray into third place in the group by the narrowest of margins for a full fifteen minutes.
The result meant that del Potro joins Federer and Robin Soderling in the semi-finals, though at one stage the Swiss found himself two points from a straight-sets defeat and elimination from the tournament.
By the time word arrived within the O2 arena, Federer was long gone, and the Argentine’s compatriot Carlos Tevez joined the 21-year-old for an impromptu knock-up to keep the equally bewildered crowd entertained.
In the end, with Federer, del Potro and Murray each with two three-set victories and one three-set defeat to their name, their games win-loss ratios were required to separate them. Federer ended with a 44 games won to 40 lost, but just one game separated del Potro’s 45-43 record from Murray’s 44-43.
Had the pair tied, Murray would have progressed by virtue of his higher ATP ranking.
The confusion should not detract from another scintillating performance from del Potro against the man he had beaten in New York to lift his first Grand Slam title back in September. The world No.5 was at times irresistible against Federer, who made a clumsy start to the match as he ambled up to a high-bouncing short ball and patting a drop shot into the net.
It brought up break point for the Argentine, and although Federer saved that one del Potro took the game and with it the initiative, surviving a marathon service game of his own for a 2-0 lead. He broke once again in game five as Federer paid the price for rallying down the middle against the big-hitting 21-year-old.
The Swiss did not mange a single break point in the first set and had no better luck in the second, but found a groove on his own serve to post a string of love service games. The resulting tiebreak would effectively decide whether or not Federer would make the semi-finals or end his season with a straight sets defeat.
Del Potro entered on a high after holding with an astonishing drops shot pick-up at the end of game 12, and edged a mini-break ahead at both 2-1 and 5-4. But, with his World Tour Finals bid on the line, Federer was reprieved by the net before sucking the Argentine in with a drop shot and volleying into the empty court.
The animated celebration was telling, but Federer still needed to win games in the third set to ensure his semi-final spot. Del Potro, undoubtedly aware that his own qualification was in a precarious situation, upped his game once more, blasting breathtaking cross-court forehand winners seemingly at will.
The tension had little effect on the quality on display from both men when, in game seven, Federer finally reached break point at 15-40. Two backhand errors reprieved del Potro, who saved a third with a huge second serve straight at the Swiss.
Buoyed by his escape, the Argentine worked his way to 0-40 in the next game, and when Federer sent a forehand into the tramlines on the second break point del Potro was left serving for the match, which he duly did in style, capping an exhilirating match with a second serve ace.