Classic Rivalries: Del Potro vs Federer

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Classic Rivalries: Del Potro vs Federer

Juan Martin Del Potro and Roger Federer have been fan favorites for as long as they have been on the professional tour. Everyone knows Roger’s incredible run to 20 Grand Slams and how amazing he’s been year in and year out. However, I think some people sometimes forget how dominating Del Potro is when he’s healthy.

Here’s a guy that goes from 560 in the world in rankings to number five in the world in a heartbeat after a two-year layoff between 2014-2016. Nobody has seen anything like it. One year he’s completely absent from the tour, and the next he comes in and wins Indian Wells in 2018, against a resurgent Roger Federer. Given how dominating Del Potro is when he’s healthy, it’s no surprise how competitive his matches are between him and the Big 3, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. Forget the other two guys though, today we’ll discuss his great rivalry against Roger Federer.

So far, these future Hall of Famers have played a total of 25 times, with Del Potro coming away with 7 wins vs. Roger’s 18 wins. At first sight one would think that Federer has dominated this rivalry. However, if you look between the numbers, you’ll find that Del Potro has taken wins from Federer in some of the most important tournaments in the world. This fact makes this rivalry a little more even in my book. So, what are the top five classic matches that these two disputed?

5. 2018 Indian Wells final. Roger was coming fresh from defending his Australian Open title, and on top of the world. Del Potro was finally putting together top ten tennis after his long layoff from 2014-2016. Del Potro would win this match after three tough sets, winning the title on a tie-break in the third set.

4. 2013 Basel final. To add insult to injury, Del Potro rolls into Roger’s hometown for the second year in a row and defends his title, after taking the 2012 title from him as well. Ouch! Everyone knows Federer owns this tournament, he’s won it 10 times. However, Del Potro was able to find an extra gear both those years to win back to back.

3. 2009 French Open Semifinal. Roger Federer wins a very tough five setter, coming back from two sets to one against a tough Del Potro. This is the year that Federer would continue on to beat Robin Soderling in the French Open final to claim his one and only Roland Garros.

2. 2017 Basel final. Roger finally gets revenge against Del Potro in his hometown, after the 2012 and 2013 disappointments. The contest would last three hard fought sets, with Federer coming on top 6-3 in the third.

1. 2009 US Open Final. This is the most memorable of all their matches. In 2009 Federer was considered unbeatable, especially at the US Open where he was a five-time defending champion. Also, Del Potro had not beat Federer in his first six attempts. The seventh attempt proved to be magical as Del Potro captured the US Open in five mesmerizing sets.

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