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21 March 2018, 07:54 | Donald Newman
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Juan Martin del Potro saved three championship points as he stunned world number one and defending champion Roger Federer 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-2) in an absorbing Indian Wells Masters final.
Federer had been searching for a record sixth title in California, but it was Del Potro who powered to his first ATP Masters 1000 title.
While expressing frustration at his inability to capitalise on key moments, Federer praised del Potro for holding his nerves and getting to finish line.
"I had very bad moments a few years ago and I don't want to think about that anymore". "I'm still surprising myself, and I want to keep surprising the tennis tour". I just want to keep winning title like this if I can.
Close to quitting tennis after four wrist surgeries in recent years, the Argentine fought to get back to the ATP Tour even as he was reduced to hitting his backhand with one hand instead of his usual two.
"Standing at the trophy ceremony I wish I could've played that tiebreak again".
"I don't remember half of it", said Federer. Juan Martin del Potro is another. "It was maybe a point here or there, maybe a shot, maybe a forehand, maybe a chip". But the prospect of the "Tower of Tandil" adding to the US Open title he won nearly a decade ago is still arguably fairly distant despite his Indian Wells win.
Del Potro said the first order of business when he gets to south Florida is to do some celebrating with his team.
Following the women's final between future stars, Federer and del Potro took the court for the latest chapter in their storied rivalry, one that will go down as one of the most contentious, as well as meaningful, considering the occasion and that the Swiss entered unbeaten on the season at 17-0, the best start of his lengthy career.
"It was a lot of chances on either end", Federer said.
"I lost my serve a little bit, and then he was clean and I wasn't", Federer explained.
Del Potro's triumph in Indian Wells, and indeed the 11-match winning streak he is now on, will have raised hopes that he can possibly win another Slam. In the beginning of the year, I just wanted to play every match really well.
Surprise Indian Wells victor Naomi Osaka leaped 22 places in the world rankings released on Monday while Jelena Ostapenko burst into the top five for the first time. This is what I miss when I was injured, you know. He said Sunday he won't decide whether to play in the French Open until after he plays Miami. Del Potro trails in their series 18-7, but owns a 4-2 advantage in finals.
Del Potro also won the title earlier this month in Acapulco, where he beat three top eight players in a row to clinch his 21st singles crown.
Del Potro recovered to deuce with a forehand victor.
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