Now that was a U.S. Open Final!
The mere fact that Juan Martin Del Potro, who let’s face it, outside of diehard tennis fans, few had heard of until this weekend, was mentally and physically fresher than Roger Federer in the fifth set and after four hours of play was truly remarkable. Few gave the big man from Argentina much of a chance to even win a set. But Del Potro’s stunning 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win is a fitting end to what has been a truly dramatic U.S. Open.
It could have turned out much differently as Del Potro, clearly in awe of his first Grand Slam final played tentative tennis for a set and a half. His bad play only masked Federer’s sub par play, especially Federer’s first serve which was non-existent for the first set or so. But when Del Potro hit a forehand down the line late in the second set which was called out first then challenged to be shown that was in, it seemed to irritate Federer so much that he couldn’t regain concentration causing him to eventually lose the second set in a tiebreaker.
Federer’s serve was his undoing throughout the match and although it got better, he simply had no answer for Del Potro’s atomic forehand which gave the big man 36 winners. We kept for Del Potro to self-destruct, especially after he double faulted twice to lose the third set, but his strategy of getting a high percentage of first serves in and then extending Federer in the rallies worked.
Once the fifth set began, it was much like what happened in the Australian Open final as Federer just went away. By the end, Federer was all out of sorts, hitting wild errors, while Del Potro remained calm even though the crowd was getting very rowdy. When Del Potro finally served it out at 5-2, he fell to the ground.
What happened to the “greatest player of all time”? Throughout the event, Federer looked good, but never great. Although he displayed true artistry in the Djokovic match, his other matches were at a lower level but he was good enough to get away with it. Federer almost did today but ran into a player who believed he could play better and did.
Having beaten Nadal and Federer in the same Grand Slam, the first time that has ever happened, Del Potro has leapt from potential Grand Slam champion to the player to watch in 2010. If Del Potro will be able to handle this instant fame will be interesting as he is a very quiet guy and been under the radar for a long time.
As for Federer, his reaction during the trophy presentation was odd to me. He was smiling. No crying or pouting like in previous losses. I’m sure he can’t believe he lost, but he didn’t looked destroyed by it. Perhaps winning the French Open and having twins this year has put things into perspective for him. Even the “GOAT” can’t have it all.