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The Steel Racquet 09/14/2009 - 11:01 PM


by Pete Bodo

At the beginning, he resembled a plodding, hunch-shouldered, heavy-footed gentle giant, as long as a black Crayola crayon, consistently flummoxed by an opponent who strikes like a cobra from anywhere on the court and moves as if he were dancing with a ball named Ginger Rogers.

It couldn't have been easy for the big man with the suitably big name, Juan Martin del Potro, in those first 15 or so games. He'd tossed and turned through a sleepless night like a man who would be executed at dawn, and forced down breakfast over the objections of his jumpy stomach. He's one of those big men who seems loath to draw attention to himself; he mumbles in a monotone, when he sits down he appears to try to make himself small. Upon first exposure, you might be convinced he's clinically depressed.

And Juan Martin del Potro certainly had reason to shut down, emotionally and mentally, through the early stages of his first Grand Slam final. This was, after all, the US Open, the tournament that he dreamed about winning as a child back in Tandil, Argentina. And when he was at the brink of realizing that fantasy, who did he find blocking his path but Roger Federer. Not only was Federer the five-time defending champion, he had slashed his way through five different finalists in that 40-match supernova. Del Potro could be forgiven for feeling a little like a customer in a bakery, clutching his numbered ticket, patiently waiting for his turn to take a beating.

By the end, though, del Potro looked more executioner than convict; if he wasn't exactly dancing, his feet were getting him where he needed to go. He stood tall and erect, emboldened by the reliable thunder emanating from his racquet. Were those really wings, sprouting from his shoulder blades?

That, probably was the distinguishing feature of del Potro's gritty performance on the concrete playing field of Arthur Ashe stadium. He found a way to stand tall, to be what he is, and what he is tonight is the new US Open champion. "It's so difficult to keep trying, to keep fighting," he said after his 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 win - the first USO mens' final to go five sets since Andre Agassi's five-set triumph over Todd Martin in 1999. "But the fans kept me trying, and I have to thank everyone for that. I succeed to be focused every time, and I had a good feeling with my forehand."

He had good reason to harbor those feelings. Del Potro was consistently cracking forehand winners at 110 mph, and that's the kind of speed that, over time, even a Roger Federer can't handle. The combination of a faster court and a flatter ball took us to the edge of Federer's genius - finally. Still, it wasn't as if the versatile defending champion didn't have his chances.

Del Potro didn't really catch fire until Federer was up a set and a break, 5-4 in the second set. If Federer had found a way to hold that game, even Delpo's forehand was unlikely to save him from perdition. But Delpo's resistance stiffened at the 11th hour, and he uncorked a picture-perfect forehand passing shot to break Federer for 5-5. Playing with new-found fury, forcing himself to hit with sufficient length to keep Federer on the defensive, he rolled into a tiebreaker and right on through it, to even the match.

Federer probably transitions from defense to offense better than any man, but over the remainder of the match Del Potro played a form of uber-defense that closed down Federer's offense option. Both men hit an unusual number of remarkable shots from deep behind the baseline to keep a point going. But it was del Potro who made the better use of them.

Del Potro converted 5 of 15 break point opportunities. It wouldn't ordinarily be a number to crow about - until you see that Federer's conversion rate was 5 of 22. Delpo had one more winner (57) and two fewer unforced errors (60). What these numbers tell you, most of all, is that this was a shoot-out. The most striking statistic is that Del Potro had 37 forehand winners, nearly twice as many as Federer, who tagged 20.

The sense I got, as the match progressed, is that the court was much larger on Del Potro's side; this would ordinarily be seen as a great advantage in a match against as accurate and precise a shotmaker as Federer, but del Potro neutralized it. Time after time, he appeared to disappear into either corner, chasing a ball, and the next thing you knew Federer was having to chase down his sorching return. Federer was unable to capitalize on defending a court that seemed much smaller on his side because of del Potro's range and power. By the time the fifth set began, del Potro was in a comfort zone, having taken a little off the serve that had cost him the third set in the form of two double faults hit from deuce.

Federer said of del Potro's performance, "It's always an amazing effort coming through and winning your first (major) in your first final. "got to give him all the credit because it's not an easy thing to do, especially coming out against someone like me, with so much experience. I think it's not easy to have a steel racquet.

"Towards the end, of course, up 5-2 in the fifth - that was easy. But he had to live through some really tough moments earlier on, and in both tiebreakers, throughout those sets to come back. So his effort was fantastic. I thought he went through quite a few ups and downs. This is what I should have used to make a difference, but I couldn't. In the end, he was really good."

Del Potro was not just good, he was emotionally fried. Tears that would flow freely a few minutes later were already welling up in him as he sank to the ground, the US Open champion. "When I lay down on the floor (sic)," he explained later, "Many things came to my mind. First, my family, my friends, everything. I don't know how to explain, because it's my dream, my dream is done and it's over. I will go home with the trophy. Maybe I can explain tomorrow, maybe next week. Right now, I don't understand nothing."

When del Potro was asked how he recovered from that awful pair of double faults that lost him the third set, and how he caught himself and stopped just as he was poised to hurl his racquet across the court, he explained: "At that moment, I start to think, It's the final, I am playing with Roger Federer, the best player in history. . .When I saw Roger and he's so. . . so gentleman (I thought better of it). So many times I do that today."

It will be cold comfort to Federer and his fans that the already iconic champion played that kind of a role in the debut of a new, promising one. But that, too, is part of the Federer legacy, and his heartbroken minions might remember something else he said:

"Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too. Can't have them all. I've had an amazing summer and a great run. I'm not too disappointed, just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament."

There will be more, too, although he will henceforth have to contend with the del Potro and his racquet - and will - of steel.

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Posted by Andrew 09/14/2009 at 11:12 PM

Hi Pete.

Mickey Seabra tweeted about an hour ago that Federer started almost too well, and began to treat the match as if he were in an exhibition. I had that "ruh-roh" feeling at 30-15, 5-4 second set - Federer had missed with a slice BH, then he threw up a no look lob that went six inches long. From 30-0 to 30-30 - Federer had been throwing Del Potro lifebelts for several games, spurning BP chances - and finally Del Potro caught one and hung on.

I think the two men respect each other - given losing to Del Potro at RG this year, or Flushing Meadows, I'll still take Flushing meadows. Wish I hadn't had to, though.

Posted by tina 09/14/2009 at 11:16 PM

Earlier I was exchanging text messages with a friend in L.A. who's a comedy writer, sort of a duel to see which one of us could go more over-the-top describing Fed, progressively grossing one another out.

I "won" the duel - by going the "Astaire" route.

I'm cranky from not going to Flushing today. So I'll come back when there's a piece on Del Potro.

Posted by Sher 09/14/2009 at 11:19 PM

No it's not cold comfort. It's part of Federer's legacy, and it's enjoyable that he's an example. Very much so, because I believe he deserves it.

Posted by federerfan 09/14/2009 at 11:23 PM

thanks Pete, that about sums it up perfectly for this fed fan....actually not a single moment wasted in moaning this "loss"! was great...i'm sticking to my guns...this is all icing...a 5 set loss to what appears to be a future sure thing thats going to give the entire top4 a shake-up every time they meet from now on, is not a thing to cry about.

Everything fed does now is going to be either a dream or a dream denied....on the whole, 2 dreams made, 2 dreams denied...if he keeps that up for a few more years, he is going to be untouchable....

next time i weep will be when his 22SF streak ends, as it must some day!

congrats to the gentle giant, JMDP, no way, Rafa is gonna just rule his way from now on, he's going to have competition and not a natural match-up gift that works in his favor....I am liking the prospect of men's tennis for a while to come.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/14/2009 at 11:23 PM


I felt that too...Federer was trying to play as if it was an exhibition event in the second set.

Posted by Anjali 09/14/2009 at 11:27 PM

Pete--Fed said he was tired a couple of times in his interview. I think the season finally got up with him along with Delpo's forehand! I think fatigue may have played a factor here. All this to say, the king is dead, long live the king!

Posted by federerfan 09/14/2009 at 11:27 PM

but boy o boy....that forehand....

never. seen. anything. like. that !

not andy's serve, not fed's forehand, not rafa's on the run curveballs, not anything...this is the most destructive shot in ends everything.

Posted by linex 09/14/2009 at 11:28 PM

Did Delpo won you over Pete? He looks more professional and humble than the talented Nalbandian even if his game is less versatile. And what about his coach Franco Davin. Not only he coached Delpo to his first Grand Slam but also the headcasy Gaton Gaudio. So that makes him the only one to coach an argentine Grand Slam champion not named Vilas.

The truth is that Delpo´s game as Tignor pointed out has a machine like efficiency and it is hard to counteract. I guess Roger in a good day has the tools to do it but if Delpo serves as well as he can it should always be a tight match.

Posted by linex 09/14/2009 at 11:28 PM

Did Delpo won you over Pete? He looks more professional and humble than the talented Nalbandian even if his game is less versatile. And what about his coach Franco Davin. Not only he coached Delpo to his first Grand Slam but also the headcasy Gaton Gaudio. So that makes him the only one to coach an argentine Grand Slam champion not named Vilas.

The truth is that Delpo´s game as Tignor pointed out has a machine like efficiency and it is hard to counteract. I guess Roger in a good day has the tools to do it but if Delpo serves as well as he can it should always be a tight match.

Posted by federerfan 09/14/2009 at 11:29 PM

just noticed something weird..about the url for this says..."whos-crying-now.html"...
just wondering if that was pete's original choice for this particular post :)

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!!) 09/14/2009 at 11:33 PM

steel racquet indeed pete. The elf settled in, found his range and fed had to adjust to a new opponent. Sort of like against soderling, where he was set to play against one level, his opponent starting hitting freely and he had trouble recalibrating.

Great win by JMDP tonite; great tourney, great summer for him. Hopefully he'll have an easier time wearing that shirt with a target on it than some have had; he seems pretty down to earth so I have hopes he'll be able to handle the added pressure brought on by the win.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!!) 09/14/2009 at 11:35 PM

lol federerfan, you're prolly right! :)

Posted by TB 09/14/2009 at 11:38 PM

I had to play tennis this evening so i quit watching the match with Fed up a break in the 2nd set, never would i have predicted what transpired! I had DVRd the match and came home to see the end. Wow, that guys forehand is insane. I like Delpo, how can you not like the guy? As a Fed fan i was dissapointed but we cant be too greedy! The dude earned this title, blasting Nadal in the semis and then talking out Fed in 5 in the final, now thats a way to win your first slam!!! Congrats to Delpo fans, he's definately got a new one here.

Posted by Red 09/14/2009 at 11:38 PM

Vamos JMDP!
You done good kiddo.
Major major props to the 2009 US Open Champ!
Aah Fed 6 is just not your number.
Please use some of your many millions to buy a consistent first serve for 2010 and hawk-eye equipment for your backyard so you can practice your challenges and reactions to it.
I love you anyway.

Posted by Kombo 09/14/2009 at 11:38 PM

Fed lost his edge just enough midway through the second set for Del Potro to start believing he had a chance. Remember, he came back from a set and a break down against Cilic and steamrolled the rest of the way. The talk of his lack of fitness has been overblown, and down the stretch his game held together better than Fed who slowed down and couldn't out maneuver Del Potro as effectively as he did early in the match.

Del Potro to win the FO next year.

Posted by Ade 09/14/2009 at 11:38 PM

I love Roger forever but felt warm and fuzzy inside watching Del Potro win his first grand slam title(because I don't think he is done). He is a very likeable man. I am happy for him, and congrats to his fans! He played terrific! That's all I can say!

Posted by Tim (The Devil Has a Laptop! ) 09/14/2009 at 11:40 PM

i mean watching cannons shot out of a racquet isnt always going to be as pleasing as seeing Federer's array of skills, but as i said, i saw del po in person the first week and ive never seen a harder hitting display, ever...

Posted by crazyone 09/14/2009 at 11:41 PM

*Please use some of your many millions to buy a consistent first serve for 2010 and hawk-eye equipment for your backyard so you can practice your challenges and reactions to it.*

LMAO, especially to the last bit.

Posted by M & T 09/14/2009 at 11:41 PM

lol, federerfan, just noticed that, thanks

Posted by Pusher 09/14/2009 at 11:45 PM

Not even close to first.

Posted by drrims 09/14/2009 at 11:45 PM

I have never seen Roger so helpless. Crushing forehand produced by DP. Mesmerizing !!!!!!!!!

Posted by Miguel Seabra 09/14/2009 at 11:48 PM

Well, sometimes Juan Martin del Potro, aka 'Enano' (that's 'midget', in spanish!), really looked like someone called James Scott Connors hitting hard flat drives with his old Wilson T-2000 steel frame...

Posted by Red 09/14/2009 at 11:49 PM

"I have never seen Roger so helpless. Crushing forehand produced by DP. Mesmerizing !!!!!!!!!"

For the record, those were not forehands..those wer cannons!

Posted by cesca 09/14/2009 at 11:52 PM

i really like
Del Potro
he's really tall
and big
I wonder if
he is cut
in the right

Posted by Tim (The Devil Has a Laptop! ) 09/14/2009 at 11:53 PM

never seen roger so helpless? well clearly his energy level dipped, but can you give the guy a break? who the hail in tennis history had anything NEAR 5 US Opens in a row, much less SIX????

i cant understand how Fed gets such criticism for being so unbelievably excellent for so many years...if he won 9 in a row, the day he lost the 10th, he'd be criticized too...cant the guy have a bad day?

Posted by Red 09/14/2009 at 11:55 PM

Sorry for the typo,it should read

"For the record, those were not forehands..those were cannons!

Posted by Taco Bell 09/14/2009 at 11:55 PM

I did hate to be picked as a favorite by Steve Tignor.....this guy is always wrong with his picks..... It is amazing

Posted by zephyrus 09/14/2009 at 11:56 PM

Nice work, Pete. I think any Fed fan had to hear the rumblings when JMDP thrashed Nadal yesterday. This guy is not exactly a joy to watch but that forehand is one huge weapon, and the rest of his game is so steady. I think your description of the larger court is spot on. I had the same sense in the Nadal match. JMDP has a much bigger game than Andy Murray or Nadal. A more typical serving performance by Roger would have been enough for him to win today going away in 3, so I still think Roger can take him more often than not. But no one else out there matches up very well.

Posted by Jenn 09/14/2009 at 11:57 PM

The most remarkable thing about Del Potro's victory today, IMO, was the way he was able to hold it together mentally when he was 2 sets to 1 down. How many times have we seen Federer's opponents keep it close in the first two sets, perhaps even splitting sets, and then once they lose the 3rd set they fade away, very predictably. Seemingly few, if anyone, other than Rafa have had the true belief that they could take a 4th and 5th set from Fed. I was so impressed with Del Potro's belief in himself, particularly in his first major final.

Watching Fed's serve struggles today, I could not help but feel badly for Andy Roddick. He must have been thinking - why can I never get THAT version of Fed?? Of course, the fact that Roddick does not have the same blistering return capability has something to do with that, but Federer definitely had an off day.

Congrats to Del Potro and his fans. Its nice to have a new champion on the men's side, just to have a different story line to talk about.

Posted by cesca 09/15/2009 at 12:02 AM

Del potro
so cute
so goodlooking

Posted by Dinesh 09/15/2009 at 12:07 AM

Fed lost this match in the 2nd set just like Wimby 2008 when he was up 4-1 against Nadal and let Nadal get back in the match. He could have been up double break but for his stunning failure to convert so many break chances. Then serving at 5-4, he relaxed way too much and let Delpo get back in the match. What the heck was he thinking when he decided to come in to net and try a stupid dropshot when he could have just fired a clean forehand winner? That's trying to be way too cute which usually never works. He would have been up 40-15 instead of 30-30 and then perhaps gained a 2 set lead. The match would have never reached a 5th set.

For all his experience, he should have realized that Delpo was going to be really nervous in the beginning and therefore should have taken full advantage of it. This is the part that absolutely bugs me about Federer. He lacks the killer instinct that Nadal has. He gets breakpoint opportunities with some aggressive play and then starts playing passively and loses those opportunities. His breakpoint conversion rate has simply got to be the worst amongst all the top players.

I think I am going to take a break from watching tennis. I am emotionally drained from watching Roger lose today. He had the match in his hands and he and only he let it slip away.

Posted by Red 09/15/2009 at 12:10 AM

I feel you.
I am extremely irritated with the Fed on this match but this is Delpo's moment in the sun so I will let it slide.

Posted by maxnyc 09/15/2009 at 12:12 AM

verdasco is more my type..delpo not so much...but what an amazing performance. no learning curve here. he won the first time in a final against TMF.

the difference was roger's serve....just lost it today unlike at Wimbledon. that's been his strength through this amazing run. not so good in australia thsi year, but otherwise

Posted by Tim (The Devil Has a Laptop! ) 09/15/2009 at 12:14 AM

ah! Tignore SCREWED fed royally, STOP with the picks, Steve!

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 09/15/2009 at 12:15 AM

Andrew - Interesting point about Fed going into exo mode early on. One of the shots from the match that most sticks in my mind is that casual behind-the-back volley Fed hit early on in the second set, which struck me as unseemly at the time. I'm so used to Fed being able to go from exo mode to assassin mode like that *snaps*; still surprised that he was never quite able to turn on the jets and maintain that level when he needed to.

Posted by maxnyc 09/15/2009 at 12:17 AM

The Ashe crowd helped Delpo immensely as he acknowledged. The sledegehammer
FH should be a big wake up call to Andy Murray. These guys are not club players who u can wait to make a mistake. Delpo has the kind of game to seriously challenge
the Fedal empire for the years to come.

Meanwhile Nole is the real #4; Murray a distant #5; Andy R. an even more distant #6

Posted by John Baldwin 09/15/2009 at 12:22 AM

First of all I would like to congradulate JMDP for his great win today against Fed and becoming the 2009 US Open Champion. Once he just put the beat down on Nadal I had a feeling he could win this match but I knew it had to be five for him to have any type of chance....With his win now JMDP really does make that big 4 into a big 5 and I'm not even sure we can keep it there...I think Murray drops a few points in my book now that JMDP had come up and snuck right under his nose and stole his grandslam...This is going to be a very interesting remainder of the season and I'm looking forward to the 2010 Grandslam season. With Nadal back at 100%, Novak playing good ball again, Fed out to add to the history books, JMDP getting that grand slam under his belt and with the Two Andys trying to find grand slam glory we could be in for a real treat in mens tennis for years to come.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/15/2009 at 12:23 AM

Dinesh - totally agree with your @12:07. Every single word.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/15/2009 at 12:27 AM
I think Roger is totally sexy when he loses his temper ! I like a man with a few rough edges ... too nice is too boring ! ;)

Posted by wilson75 09/15/2009 at 12:28 AM

Both players had an excellent tournament and as I said before the better player won. I'll always a Fed fan and I'm happy for all his achievements this year. Six in a row was asking a lot but I believe he will get his sixth USO title next year just like did at Wimby this year. He's a great champion and I for one will miss him when he finally decides to retire. As for Del Porto he's an excellent player who can get even better. He is refreshing and a nice guy, no arrogance here. Murray can learn alot from him.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/15/2009 at 12:29 AM

First of all, wonderful piece, Pete. Delightful tone, appropriate ending, proper perspective, everything calibrated just right.

Second, I'm making a very specific point here, it has nothing to do with the second set or, frankly, the first four sets. It has to do with Fed looking flat in the fifth and then saying in his presser how tired he was:

This was no ordinary scheduling progression at the US Open, thanks to the weather. Federer played his second straight Monday final due to the weather, and the difference between a fresh Fed (2008) and a not-as-fresh Fed showed in the fifth today. Do realize that a typical 2nd semifinal for a US Open would normally start at roughly 3:10 p.m. New York time, the day before the final. This year, Fed's 2nd semifinal started precisely at 4:35.

Then consider how Fed had almost 87 hours off before playing back-to-back matches totaling eight sets, 87 service games, and three tiebreaks within a span of 29 hours. I think the abnormal quality of the rhythms of this revised, rescheduled championship weekend did play a small role in his fatigue.

With all this having been said, I move on to point No. 3:

Third, Delpo played Thursday afternoon and therefore didn't have quite as much accumulated rust when he took the court on Sunday. Delpo was the sharpest semifinalist by far. But notice how Delpo did something Fed-like in his semi: he managed to win in straights (disregard the fact that the opponent was Rafa; Fed doesn't know how to do that very well anymore...). By winning in economical fashion, Delpo saved enough in the tank for today, physically and mentally. The fact that the final few sets were played in shade and with cooler temperatures (nod to Brad Gilbert) also saved Delpo a bit.

In terms of other quirks in the schedule, one must also point to Mr. Bodo himself, for reminding us that this was the latest the U.S. Open could possibly be scheduled, given the calendar; in other years, this Monday final could have been played on September 8, and who knows how hot it might have been on that day.

None of these things made Delpo win or Fed lose in themselves, but they all do suggest that Delpo had a little extra to draw on (in addition to adrenaline). From Fed's perspective, I think these small accumulations of subtle factors did make a bit of a difference in terms of both his acceptance of the loss and his level of energy in the fifth. He jumped around before receiving serve on a few occasions in the fifth, something which I don't see him do if he's fresh and springy and in full roar.

Fourth and finally--and most importantly--Delpo is some kind of quick study.

What a phenomenal learning progression from Australia to Roland Garros to this match in 2009 against Federer. Has anyone other than Rafa at Wimbledon so quickly learned, understood, absorbed, and then applied the holistic lessons--physically, mentally, spiritually, tactically, strategically--needed to beat Roger in a high-stakes slam final on a surface Fed loves?

Delpo is a lot like Rafa as a person: Humble, grounded, immensely respectful toward Roger, consumed by the desire to learn and improve, always growing in the heat of competition, and equally gracious in moments of defeat (Roland Garros) and victory (today). He is a very popular and satisfying champion for my tastes. I hope and expect he'll win several more.

Still hugely happy with Roger's season, and as people here know, I'm a big believer in merely reaching major finals. My big worry for Fed is if he draws Delpo in the quarters of a future major. Hopefully Delpo will get his rear end into the top 4 ASAP, so that Fed's semifinal streak can survive.

Continued lavish congrats to Delpo, Juggernaut Nation (Juan Jose, President Emeritus), Argentina (major champions this year in golf and tennis, folks--Angel Cabrera and now Delpo), and to all those who wanted a new face to snag a major, which is good for both tennis and sports.

Posted by Pusher 09/15/2009 at 12:33 AM

Trivia time!

Who before Del Potro today and the Djoker at the 2008 AO was the last to take FedEx out of a Slam with a Wilson in hand?

Posted by wensfo 09/15/2009 at 12:35 AM

I am a big Federer fan, and wanted him to win today. But he won Wimby and RG this year, got in the finals of the other 2, and lost only by 5 sets. So I will give him a break.

Del Potro deserved to win the US Open, and I am so happy to see the other players other than Nadal finally catching up to Federer. I am afraid this may be the beginning of the end of Federer's reign...but so happy with the young guns Del Potro, Nadal, Murray, and Nole for the next 5 years. Still hoping Fed can win one or two more.

Posted by Jimmy 09/15/2009 at 12:42 AM

The trophy host Dick Enberg was a complete disaster. He should be ashamed on himself for denying Delpo to speak in spanish and then allowing him to speak after only he was almost begging for it. That was the biggest insult in tennis history during a trophy ceremony. It looked like he was more interested to promote for Lexus than to let the great champion to speak. Well done Del Potro!!

Posted by Lizzie 09/15/2009 at 12:44 AM

A friend and I, watching the live feed at work today, both got the feeling early on that Fed seemed to be playing an exhibition. My friend wondered out loud in the second set - when Fed wasted a bushel of break points - whether he'd let the circus shot at the end of the SF go to his head. Seemed to want to play spectacular points instead of smart, efficient points. *sigh* Hopefully he can learn some valuable things from this defeat.

Am so glad, since Roger couldn't reel in another Slam title, that it was JMDP who got it. Definitely like him best of all the young ones.

Posted by zenggi 09/15/2009 at 12:45 AM

I can't believe I fell asleep before the end of the second set when Roger and Delpo were contesting who could serve mosts DF or second services.

Congratulations, Juan Martín, for such an achievement at your age!. Your dream has come true sooner than expected! As I said before you seemed to me a 2003 Roger's version. Please don't fade now.

Commiserations to my fellow Roger's fans. I'll watch the match later after work. 16 will have to wait a little longer. Roger will be fine. Go have some nice holidays with your family.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/15/2009 at 12:45 AM

Dinesh, Crazy 4 Rog:

Yes, as far as it goes, Fed lost his big chance at 5-4, 30-love in the second. No argument there. Pretty obvious.

Just want to make some tempering remarks, though:

Fed doesn't have the killer instinct Nadal has. That's a true-enough statement, but let's contextualize it: NO ONE HAS NADAL'S KILLER INSTINCT. Just as no one has had the big-point chops Fed's had all these years. Today was a day when an opponent won a majority of the match's biggest points; JMDP is the first man other than Rafa to win TBs from Fed in a major final, so it's no surprise that JMDP is the first man other than Rafa to BEAT Fed in a major final.

I would also simply add that the genuinely/historically aberrational nature of Fed's big-point serving today only magnifies the enormity of his career and the immensity of his achievements over the past six years. The fact that many Fed fans are in such agony over Roger's inability to, as I like to call it, "find those thumpers" on huge points (2009 Wimbledon F being the paramount example, 2007 Wimbledon F being another classic case) shows how often he's been able to get the job done under withering pressure and scrutiny.

It also shows just how fully Delpo spilled the tank, competed, gamed, and persevered in this match. I can't stop (and don't want to stop) feeling very, very happy for this result. It is indeed a great story when a new person is able to climb the mountain and sip from the nectar of ultimate championship glory at a tennis (or golf) major, given the stakes and significance assigned to the four annual main events in each sport.

Posted by Pspace (Elf of DecoTurf) 09/15/2009 at 12:46 AM

"Steel racquet" indeed! Thanks for this one, Pete and Roger for the title, I guess. del Potro showed his racquet of steel in saving all of those break points. Here are a few of the patterns:

1. I'm 6'6". Big serve
2. Federer ad-court runs around to smack the fh winner DTL. del Potro crushes it CC. I don't think Federer was able to even put his racquet on one of those.
3. Deep slice backhand. Run around and nail the IO fh. And, the biggest one in the fifth set...a huge CC backhand drawing the forced error.
4. Short slice. Gracias. FH bomb.

These are the shots that win you slams, and if you can save 90% of the BPs you face, you're good to go. Well done, kid. I honestly didn't know if you had it in you. I tip my hat.

This win should probably rate very high up in the difficulty scale as he took down both Federer and Rafa. Nadal was obviously injured, but an injured Nadal is still better than 90% of the tour.

del Potro's got game. He's charming as hell. I hope he can go on to win many more slams.

Posted by Andy 09/15/2009 at 12:46 AM

I agree with you completely, Dinesh, and Pete, very disappointed you glossed over and didn't mention ANY of these points. Roger played a LOUSY match, pure and simple:

Couldn't serve

Way too many unforced errors

Far too casual (the 30-15 point at 5-4 in the second set that Dinesh references is spot on--Fed should have driven the ball for a winner and instead goes for a drop shot that ends up costing him the set and thus the match)

Returned poorly--he's really going to have to do more than just chip/block it back

And how 'bout this, something that NOONE has mentioned:

WHY ON EARTH DID FED KEEP GOING TO DP's FOREHAND SIDE???????? DP is nailing forehand winners over 100 mph regularly and FED kept hitting there! HELLO--EARTH TO FEDERER!!!

It's almost as if he WANTED to lose the match. I for one lost a lot of respect for Fed. He's human, sure, but someone watching him for the first time would be befuddled at how the guy could be considered one of the all time greats and have won any, much less 15, grand slams.

Very sad and disappointed here, to be sure.

Posted by susan 09/15/2009 at 12:50 AM

To think this is the same guy who was humiliated and bageled twice on the courts of the Australian Open by Federer just 9 months ago--and now THIS.

he held it together mentally and did not allow himself to be intimidated.

The crowd was pulling for him and that appeared to help (which he confirmed in his interview).

Smart move also--when he began slapping the hands of fans along the court after a winner.

Posted by rg.nadal 09/15/2009 at 12:54 AM

Congrats, Juan Martin. Fantastic win and many more to come I'm sure.

Posted by Wendy 09/15/2009 at 12:54 AM

I agree with Andy. So sad and disappointing. THIS is the guy who won all those grand slams?

Not only was TMF too casual, but he was probably overconfident. His interview talking about Del Potro indicated he didn't take him seriously enough.

And he blew SO many chances! WHEN was the last time Federer played so badly, so lousy, such low quality tennis, in a grand slam final aside from when he plays Nadal (who seems to make his brain go to mush)?

Federer may be great, but mentally, not nearly as tough as Nadal, who's still the all-time champ for men on that (Monica Seles on the women's side, for the record!).

Posted by bengoshi 09/15/2009 at 12:56 AM

I am happy enough for del Potro.
I am still waiting for Mr. Bodo to present some opinion on the Serena Tirade. Is really going to leave that horrible horrible incident with Ms. Lorge's bizarrely off-the-mark (in my opinion, and many other persons' as well) comments?
Poster Girl Goes Postal! And the conspiracy of non-analysis and non-reprimand by WTA, USTA, Nike, and Tennis magazine begins, out of fear that their "real #1" will lose sponsors and possibly be dis-invited here and there, or that she will refuse to be photographed for the cover or special features again? I am certainly waiting for Nike to chime in too, though I imagine they were behind the way-too-late apology. Kudos to Mary Carillo for her honesty, particularly as to how there is absolutely no need to hesitate in condemning Ms. Williams' acts. She acted like a self-absorbed thug, and deserves to be sanctioned severely for it. "I want to give the linesperson a big ol' hug" - oh, puh-leez, did Nike tell her to say that? What is your perspective on this, Mr. Bodo? What does it say about the business of the sport?

Posted by Amit 09/15/2009 at 01:13 AM

Could not agree more with Jimmy...I was shocked with the rudeness of presentation ceremony host....Delpho is so humble and gentle....he just wanted to say thanks to his friends and family in Spanish and this guy was so rude in denying him....very disappointed and disgusted to see this happen at this stage

Posted by Dinesh 09/15/2009 at 01:16 AM

Red, Matt, Crazy-for-Rog, Andy,

Thanks for acknowledging my post and for being in agreement with what I said. It helps dull the pain somewhat :) But it's still maddeningly frustrating particularly since Federer could have actually won this match. It's not as though he got blown off the court in straight sets like Nadal did. But I do give full credit to Delpo for being so mentally tough and hanging in there despite having lost the 3rd set on consecutive double faults.

Perhaps Roger's amazing run and luck this summer had to end sometime - it was perhaps getting to be too much of a good thing. And all good things must come to an end. It's perhaps also fitting that Delpo won over Roger. After all, it was Roger who turned the tables on Delpo at the French after trailing 2 sets to 1. If Delpo had managed to hang on, Roger would still be waiting to beat Sampras' record.

Given a choice, I will take Roger's FO win instead of a 6th US Open every single time. But a 6th Open would have been wonderful as well!

If Roger really wants to win more GS, he has got to get better about converting breakpoint opportunities and has to play even more aggressively particularly against the big hitters like Delpo and Soderling. He needs to really think about coming to net more often and ending points quickly. If not, these guys will continue to fire away and even a genius like Federer will not be able to handle such pace, as Pete rightly stated in his article.

Posted by Long Le 09/15/2009 at 01:32 AM

The most amazing thing about Delpo's win is that he decided to make the adjustment about his serve. He realized that he was not having a good serving day and decided to spin those serves in and win the point from the baseline. How many players even have the guts to abandon one of their biggest weapons in USO final facing Federer?

Posted by Genuine Realist 09/15/2009 at 01:34 AM

I think Fed's mental toughness has been well enough established, at Wimbledon in 2004, 2006, and 2007, at the US Open in 2004 and 2005, and the French Open this year.

Nadal is tough enough, but there are actually far fewer examples than Fed.

Posted by susan 09/15/2009 at 01:44 AM

I really enjoy the snarky Federer moments. They're so rare. Two of them in this match! You can get a feel for what he was like in junior days.

Makes him seem more human to me, more Safin-like--and not the machine or robot or magician or any other word that depicts him as some kind of superhuman.

even d f wallace's description was not really about fed the man but fed the player, which is, of course, fed the man but.. ok i'll stop there or I will be entering some a philosophical black hole.

Posted by Alex 09/15/2009 at 01:45 AM

Jimmy I could not agree more. Dick came off looking bad and the worst part is you know that if for what ever reason Roger felt like saying a few words in German or French there is no way he would have been cut off but since its just Del Potro, "2009 US OPEN CHAMP", he was being cut off. Also I love that Del Potro came back and dominated the last set. The commentators on CBS, John and Mary were so stunned that we did not have to listen to them talk about how great Roger is. I mean he is great but please stop talking about it because you guys are making me hate him.

Posted by reckoner 09/15/2009 at 01:50 AM


federer is a lot like ivan lendl in the sense that, both men win a ton of matches in straight sets or four sets... but despite both men having legendary fitness levels, they both somehow lose a lot of big matches that go the distance, especially against top competition...

im not talking federer over the likes of tipsarevic or berdych in five, im talking about going the distance against guys like nadal... in lendls case, im talking about going against guys like becker, edberg, wilander...

Posted by Shiv 09/15/2009 at 01:52 AM

This match had a surreal quality to it the way Fed galloped to a one set 5-4 lead and the way it ended in the 5th Set.As many pointed out here, I think Fed had a lapse of concentration probably comforted by the many mistakes his opponant made till that stage in the second set.But slowly,all that started changing from the moment JMDP broke Fed for the first time in the match.What was interesting in the match statistics is the low first serve percentage of Fed and the high number of forehand winners from JMDP in the last 3 sets.I haven't come across any statistics against Fed with this high number of winners after he started dominating.This includes even the matches where he lost to Nadal.Looks like finally the younger generation has caught up with him.It will be interesting in the next year how Fed reacts to this.Congrats Juan,, you deserve this achievement!!

Posted by mako 09/15/2009 at 02:00 AM

Roger got beat. Pure. Simple. Psalms must be sung to wonderful DelPo.

What is (not so) astonishing and, telling, to me, is:

Tennis commentators (from Bodo to Carillo) are the most incidental, fairweather puff-pastries on earth.

Pathological and idiotic; a damnable combination.


Has anyone ever noticed that, aside from the uber-nervous John McEnroe, each and every "TV brand" tennis commentator is an underachieving LOSER (Shriver, Fernandez, P-Mac, Cahill, Gilbert)?

Peter Bodo, with his ill-gotten, smug cave-diving pride on the women's side of things (Goolagong favoritism, anyone?) should be applying his usual misogyny to the Serena Scandal, which he has avoided thus far.

How convenient.

That being noted: 3 Cheers 4 Juan Martin--a deserving champ.

Tennis will never be widely embraced so long as its comentators are so freakin' neurotic.

Posted by 1 09/15/2009 at 02:05 AM


Posted by 1 09/15/2009 at 02:06 AM


Posted by Genuine Realist 09/15/2009 at 02:14 AM

How soon they forget.

Fed made the FO final coming from behind in two five set matches, one against Del Po. He played from behind in two other four setters.

AT the AO, he stayed in the tournament by coming from 2 sets down against Berdych.


Today, he didn't play very well against a good opponent and got beat. Congrats to the winner, who is a real comer.

Posted by Great Day for TENNIS 09/15/2009 at 02:20 AM

New history has been made! Congratulation, Del Potro!

Posted by Euphemism 09/15/2009 at 02:20 AM

CBS owes Delpo - and Spanish-speaking viewers - a big apology for trying to shut Delpo down during the ceremony. Enberg's move was disrespectful to the player and to the fans, and came off as kind of racist, really. The French may be extremely jingoistic about their own language, but they would never forbid an American winner from speaking English after winning Roland Garros; for CBS to forbid an Argentine winner from speaking Spanish at our own national tournament is disgraceful.

Posted by Great Day for TENNIS 09/15/2009 at 02:23 AM

New history has been made! Congratulations, Del Potro!

Posted by John M 09/15/2009 at 02:25 AM

In the presser, Fed basically shrugged off the loss – it clearly didn’t bother him as much as losing to Rafa at this year’s Australian and at last year’s Wimbledon. I think he would have been more upset if it had been Rafa who beat him here. I think he felt good for del Potro to an extent – it’s del Potro’s first slam title (in answer to one question in the presser, he compared del Potro’s feeling to his own when he won his first slam, Wimbledon 2003). Also, Fed doesn’t have a rivalry with him the way he does w/Rafa, so that every loss to Rafa gets magnified, esp. b/c Rafa has a winning record against him (a 2-1 winning record). Plus, now that Roger has the career slam and the grand slam singles record, he can relax a little, as he himself has said – he’s said that he’s more relaxed since accomplishing those goals this summer, and that may even allow him to play better at times – and it can also allow him to take a loss easier than before. But still, you could tell that he was extremely disappointed. I think he feels that he should have either won the match in straight sets or in four and should never have let it get to a fifth set. Well, that was the same at both this year’s Australian final and last year’s Wimbledon final – in all three finals, Fed could have won if he had just cut down on his own unenforced errors, especially at certain key moments where normally Fed doesn’t make errors. He said that he played his best and it just didn’t go his way this time, you can’t win them all. That’s a good attitude to have, but it’s not really accurate – he had trouble with his first serve almost the entire match, and he had way too many unforced errors, and I think some of both was due to nerves, which normally Fed overcomes. But when you think of all those times, in all those matches over the years – including at this U.S. Open – when Fed won a key, clutch point when a lesser, more normal player would not have made it, when the rest of the mere mortals of the tennis world would have made the error, whether due to nerves or the opponent or both, and when you think of how impossible so many of those shots seemed, you realize that to expect Fed to play at that perfect a level all the time is truly impossible, or at least incredibly improbable. He is, afterall, a human being, as easy as it is to forget that. And Nadal’s defeat yesterday proves that Nadal is human as well.

Today, Juan Martin del Potro proved that a simple human being can beat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – in the same tournament. He is only the third player to do so (Nalbandian and Djokovic the others), and the first to do so in a slam. Way to go, del Potro. He’s a very likeable guy, as is Fed. It’s endearing to see a player with greatness show humility and heart and tears upon winning, as del Potro did tonight, and as Fed has on so many occasions. I hope to see more of del Potro, and to see him improve.

Posted by Kombo 09/15/2009 at 02:32 AM

Fed had a short lapse of concentration in the second set, that is all. He didn't spend the last three sets out of it, get a grip, please. A two set lead could have been insurmountable, but Del Potro took the lifeline that fell to him, and he played his game the rest of the way. For those saying Fed looked out of sorts; of course he did, you try handling 100+ mph forehands for five sets. Only Soderling hits like that, but without the consistency of Del Potro. Del Potro's power didn;t allow Fed to take balls early and move into the court like he did for the first set and a half. As Fed increasingly had to defend Del Potro's consistency and aggressive shots set the rhythm of the match, whereas early on Fed was on the baseline, taking everything early and dictating play. I'm glad Del Potro won, I prefer his play to Murray. Del Potro hits winners and defends when he has to, Murray on the other hand seems intent on making his opponent play like crap. Nadal's a well rounded player, but stands too far back (still) and that heavy topsin to righty backhands is gray to 6'6" Del Potro. Just like Rafa is a hard stylistic matchup for Fed, Del Potro's seemingly built to tool out Rafa. Murray needs a point-ending forehand.

Posted by felizjulianidad 09/15/2009 at 02:37 AM

Did Dick Enberg really try to stop Del Potro from speaking in Spanish?

That really rubs me the wrong way. I used to live in the US and enjoyed it immensely, but the one thing I will probably resent for life is the amount of times I was told not to speak Spanish.

Posted by Genuine Realist 09/15/2009 at 02:37 AM

Well said, Kombo, but there was also the fourth set tiebreaker, beginning with a double fault, and then Fed missing three FH's of the type that he usually dines out on.

Posted by Fudoshin 09/15/2009 at 02:42 AM

Jimmy, I agree with you. Dick Enberg had the foot-in-the-mouth disease. He said to Federer that they had met at the award winning ceremony five times in a row when Federer was winning, and suggested that he (Federer) can just deliver his acceptance speech this time (in spite of coming in as runner up). Then he denied Juan Martin the chance to speak to the fans in Spanish. He said, " We are running short of time." The way he brushed aside the new champion reflects his lack of respect for this young man. I am glad JMDP insisted that he speak in Spanish, and Enberg condescendingly agreed, "Oh, all rieght, a short speech." What made Enberg think that he had the right to do that?

Posted by Sudheer 09/15/2009 at 02:46 AM

Well everyone talks about unforced errors, most of the times they are result of nerves, pressure etc. And everyone expects fed to play perfectly all the time. Errors are part of his game from 2007 .

But whatever it is one thing we have learned today " There will never ever be a player like Roger federer " . No one can match his consistency & grace in his shot making .

Posted by OR 09/15/2009 at 02:46 AM

Matt -

It's a reasonable point about the timing of the match, I thought as the match was starting that Roger had less than 24 hours of rest after a pretty challanging Semi, and it wasn't easy with the sun. It wasn't tired that did him in though, his serve was gone long before it, but it was possible it made it difficult for him to red-line his baseline game as compensation.

I also have an issue with the 'out' call - I disagree with Andrew, that point should have been replied. That 'out' stood out loud and clear amidst all the other voices out there. I thought it was the linesman when I heard it, and I was up there on row L.

If the point isn't to be replayed, what's to stop a fan from doing the same in an important point of the match next time and distract the guy you want to see lose?

How is a loud yell 'out' - not 'Allez Rogi' or "Vamos Del Potro" - but a voice mimicking that of a linesman - different from a stray paper glass flying somewhere behind the baseline. I didn't care for that call.

Posted by Ray T. 09/15/2009 at 02:48 AM

Roger was winning too easily, thus completely underestimated his opponent serving at 5-4 in the 2nd set. That cost him a 6th US Open and there's a lesson for everyone to NEVER EVER let your guard down until it's over.

All the best to Del Potro who is such a breath of fresh air of respect and humility after the likes of Djokovic, Murray and Monfils...Bravo !

Posted by OR 09/15/2009 at 02:51 AM

Blah. *replayed* and not replied. *tired* - tiredness.

Posted by Voltaire 09/15/2009 at 02:53 AM

Pete-Excellent post as usual. But given the quality of Juan Martin Destructive Potro, he deserves a longer piece from you. I was in the office and looked up the score....and Mr. Versatile was a setup and a breakup.Miserable beyond belief, I desperately prayed it doesn't end in 3 quick/humiliating sets. After a while, hands trembling i typed for live scores...voila what have you....JMDP snagged the 2nd and trading blows in the 3rd. Then I realised i'd a severe backache to scamper home to catch the rest of the match. Up a break, serving for a 5-3 lead, with a realization that he'll go up 2 sets to one....Mr. Destruction refused to fire and in a blink of an eye, Fedex stole the set in prime Sampras style. Then something weird happened.....the serves that were whizzing by in 130's suddenly were just swishing at 90's....incredibly risky by Delpo. As Johny Mac was pointing, Delpo is making a big mistake by having no free points on serve but correctly hazarded a guess that Delpo might be thinking he can outplay Fedex from baseline. All fine strategy unless you can pull it off....that's what delpo or his tectonic forehand did! Another thing Fedex couldn't crush even the slower serves was, irrespective of speed, they were delivered from 1st storey. Remember Fedex was still just 2 points from winning the match.....only to be bombarded by hail of FH bullets! In my 2 decade stroke looked as ferocious, as blinding,as decisively point ending as this Nuke from Delpo. Many times it appeared Delpo's Nuke can go right through the opponent(sorry Fedex). Penetrative is massive understatement for utterly devastating Delpo's Nukes....Forehand Aces anyone! Fedex seemed fine with losing to a comparative tyro than his regular nemesis 'Rafa'. It's incredible to see Roger's transformation from a champion in decline until Madrid open to catch a second wind and soar above all and permanently into record books! Tennis should incredibly exciting for next few yrs...with 2 or 3 splitting the majors! Delicious just contemplating....

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 09/15/2009 at 02:55 AM

Nice post, Pete, I enjoyed it a lot - great to see some appreciation for del Potro, too. :)

Again, congrats to Elfie fans...wonderful tournament from him, particularly the last two matches - I'm very impressed, can't wait for the AO...sigh. *is addict* Be very proud and I hope you enjoy this moment to the utmost. :)

And commiserations again to Federer fans - still a pretty good year for him, no? - career slam, channel slam, getting back to #1 - no need to be too down (although I *do* know it hurts, all the same). His SF/F streak really is something else though, just amazing.

Thanks to Pete, Asad Raza, Andrew Friedman, Bobby and Master Ace for all the coverage, and thanks to Andrew and Rosangel for the crisis centres and moderation (and to ptenisnet too). And thanks to everyone on here (you know who you are) who kept me sane and held my hand during the most frazzlesome moments and at the height of the Fedal wars...all much appreciated. :)

Posted by OBdizzy 09/15/2009 at 03:19 AM

I was also really disappointed in Mr. Enberg for rolling over the top of Del Potro, when it was really clear that it meant a lot to JMDP to address the crowd and camera in Spanish. I understand that the network has sponsorship and time commitments, but it seemed remarkably insensitive to make Del Potro have to insist before honoring his very reasonable request. I don't know for certain that this behavior was compelled by some bias against the Spanish language, but it's hard to entirely rule this motive out.

Posted by Jessica 09/15/2009 at 03:28 AM

Great game from Del Potro!!!

Posted by peepee 09/15/2009 at 03:44 AM

Dimesh, I feel you. 100%.

I knew something wasn't right when Fed untypically complained about JMDP asking too late for hawkeye.

And then, doublefault over doublefault - so un-Federer like.

And don't forget the blown easy points, just hit into the sky.

Last but not least, a FH like I've never seen before, boah.

My guess, Fed either had a fight with wifey or the twins robbing last night's sleep :)

Anyway, happy for Delpo. Still disappointed though, Fed should have taken it in the 4th. But hey, it was a bad day on the wrong time, which could always happen - and make his 15 GS and 22 straight SF (21 Finals!) even more remarkable.

For the ones asking, this is the one who won the 15 GS, are you guys kidding?

Marcello Lippi (Italians nat soccer coach) has a story to describe it:
Hercules (or whoever) had to sleep with 1000 women in a row. In the colloseum. At number 998 people were amazed and calling him a demigod. Then he failed at #999, and people started calling him a wimp.... which is nonsense, of course.

Posted by rafa4ever 09/15/2009 at 03:44 AM

Agree with Jimmy and other posters.
This is not real. A new USO champion has to beg to say a few words in Spanish to address the crowd. I bet if it were Roger, he can take as much time as he wants to deliver his victory speech.
At AO 09, it is Rafa that gets the short end of the stick and now it is Delpo. Can someone pls stop this injustice and preferential treatment to Roger? yaya. I know he is God to a lot of people, but others deserve respect just as much.

Posted by sic (¡felicidades enano!) 09/15/2009 at 04:03 AM

Wow, what a commanding 5th set performance by Juan Martín. I can't remember seeing a player not named Nadal hit through Federer like that. At the beginning of the year I doubted that Delpo would become a real force, even after his run at Miami, but boy was I wrong about this stud. As I watched him play the early rounds of the tournament I realized that he has developed the killer mentality of a GS winner. This guy has a shot at being a dominant player.

Someone upthread mentioned poor Andy Roddick, why doesn't he ever get this version of Federer (referring to the "poor" serving); well, it's no mystery, Roddick is a mediocre returner incapable of putting pressure on Federer's serve, so Roger never really has to force the machinery. JMDP was absolutely crushing Roger's second serves, causing Roger to feel a lot of urgency on his first serves, which often leads to lower percentages. Rafa is the other player that does this on Roger's serve (explaining why Roger often has "poor" serving performances against Nadal) and from the baseline. The only way you are going to beat Roger, one of the greatest front-runners of all time, in a GS final is putting immense pressure on him from start to finish. That's how you win the 5th set. Rafa showed the way, and I always thought that Novak or Murray would follow him through, but it was Juan Martín del Potro who finally followed the example.

Posted by Kif 09/15/2009 at 04:04 AM

Congrats to the Hightower.
And it wasn't Steve's picks fault, it was Gwen! :ranting:

Posted by linex 09/15/2009 at 04:20 AM

I honestly think that it was not a matter of Roger´s mediocre play today but of Delpo playing a consistent power game from midway second set onwards (the game he played all tournament with the exception of the first set today) that is almost impossible to counteract.

Roger is too a versatile player and therefore kept this match close and had chances to win it but Delpo had the speed of his shots from both his serve, backhand and his forehand working on his favour. Delpo´s advantage over Fed is the power and depth of his shots. He proved that in Roland Garros and he proved that today, Roger was playing in defense which is not his favourite verson of the game throughout many points.

If Delpo plays short or tentativlely like he did in the first set he stands no chance against Roger. I am sure that the Roland gArros match gave Delpo the confidence to know that if he played his game he had chances. He overcame his first nerves, stuck to that plan and ended winning the match.

Of course that it would not hurt if the semis and finals were played with a day of rest in between. It is inhuman for players to play 2 five setters in consecutive days. As RAfa said if you play a long match in the semi you are assured to be the loser in the final. I guess the little rest for today´s finalists had an effect in the number of unforced errors and double faults. As Juanma said he did not sleep too much the night before due to his semifinal win over Nadal and the excitement of playing his first Major final. A day of rest would have helped both players.

Posted by charles 09/15/2009 at 04:43 AM

So what's with the "steel racquet" comment - I don't get it...

Posted by rafa rcoks -- Vamos elf 09/15/2009 at 04:52 AM

so happy for delpo. unbelievable win. i still cant digest this. im a huge delpo fan but i didnt think he could play this kind of tennis in a grandslam final. im so proud of you juan, u r an amazing champion. im sure that this is the first of so many gs wins to come. thanks god rafa already won 6 slams;) because this guy looks like he will dominate the hardcourt slams if he keep this up. this is delpo who won its not federer who lost, lets focus on the winner, not make the smae horrible thing as in australia when it all was about the guy who lost instead off hailing the guy who deservedly won. well done delpo, 2009 us open champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Aussiemarg aka Madame President Its Time To Rock and Roll,US Open 09/15/2009 at 05:02 AM

Thanks Pete

Well Del Potro won me over last year,hey it must be a womans thing lol!

When he won 4 titles in a row,I saw things in him and his game.

He certainly worked hard and has evolved as a much better player.

This young man is 20 and to win his first Grand Slam title against Roger Federer says it all for me.

He turned things around today and took control.A mark of a great player.

Del Potro yes indeed you have nerves of Steel and may I add your game is pretty good as well.


Posted by Fred 09/15/2009 at 05:06 AM

Well, Congrat to Del Potro, I didn't think he had the mental strength...but his forehand was sooo heavy!! If Fed had served better, he would have won that one but let's not be too critical nor harsh, it was a beautiful summer, more than I could dream of.

I'm sure a lot of people are also happy to have a different winner this time, so well done JuanMar.
Even if I didn't like some of his attitudes yesterday, especially that moment when he claimed no to be ready when Roger served an ace. The replay showed clearly that Del Potro lied...He can do better on that aspect of his sportsmanship.

Posted by Great Day for TENNIS 09/15/2009 at 05:10 AM

Bravo, Del Potro!

Posted by charles 09/15/2009 at 05:14 AM

Ok, so I've listened to the interview about a dozen times

I'm convinced the original transcription of the interview is wrong. The comment comes at 5:50 in the above link...

Asked about Del Potro's composure, Federer says, "It's not easy, you know, to have a STILL racquet, you know, towards the end. Of course, he was up 5-2 in the 5th, that was easy, but he had to live some really tough moments earlier on in both those breakers..."

Before the error is further perpetuated, let's get rid of this fictitious "steel racquet" comment...

Posted by rakesh 09/15/2009 at 05:16 AM

i really wanna thank bodo for chosing federer as winner before the final, its coz i wanted delpotro to win, the reason i will tell u, bodo proved himself wrong since the beginning of this year, in aussi open he chose murray and jankovic to win title, and they lost, in french open he chose nadal and safina, they collapsed, in wimbledon he chose vinus and murray again and it was disaster for both, and this us open he chose dementieva and murray thord time, they lost early, infact he chose nadal over delpo, and nadal lost by the curse, and finally when he chose federer over delpo in finale i was pretty sure that delpotro will win, thnx pete....

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/15/2009 at 05:28 AM

i might've missed it when someone posted re rankings, but how does Elf's win factor into the rankings? who's moving, up/down, other than the obvious (Rafa)?

Posted by jekiro 09/15/2009 at 05:32 AM

I wasn't able to see the match, I wish I did just so I can really appreciate DelPo's achievement. Just when I (or many people) though Murray would be the next one to win a slam... here came the gentle giant. What a pleasant surprise =)

Posted by jekiro 09/15/2009 at 05:32 AM

I wasn't able to see the match, I wish I did just so I can really appreciate DelPo's achievement. Just when I (or many people) though Murray would be the next one to win a slam... here came the gentle giant. What a pleasant surprise =)

Posted by jekiro 09/15/2009 at 05:32 AM

I wasn't able to see the match, I wish I did just so I can really appreciate DelPo's achievement. Just when I (or many people) though Murray would be the next one to win a slam... here came the gentle giant. What a pleasant surprise =)

Posted by jekiro 09/15/2009 at 05:33 AM

forgive me for the triplets post...

Posted by Kofi 09/15/2009 at 05:36 AM

mina! I'm at the airport, will take my flight soon.

The ATP home page already has the updated ranking points (, which will answer some of your questions I think.

It was nice to meet you. Remember to tell me when you and Nic and JohnC and Aussiemarg can meet!

Posted by Ariel 09/15/2009 at 05:56 AM

I've been following Juanma Del Potro since he was about 16. Juanma could have come on the tour much earlier and made a big mark before this. But he took his education seriously and insisted on finishing it in the normal way with his classmates. He was an A student in his Argentine high school, and throughout his tennis training still toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. Architecture is still his big love, and he visits the famous examples wherever he plays. He is unusually intelligent, level-headed and emotionally mature for his age. Not to mention, sexy as all hell. Tennis fans are in for a good time watching him win his rightful place in the sport.

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