21 March, 2018
The Swiss maestro served for the set, and the title, but del Potro dug deep to save three match points, two at 40-15 down, before breaking back to send the stanza to a tiebreak, which the Argentine dominated. However, Del Potro saved a remarkable three match points to take the third set into a tie-breaker before beating Federer for the seventh time in 25 meetings between the duo. Against Juan Martin Del Potro in the final, it would be no easy match for the Swiss, but definitely one he should win as going into the match he boasted an 18-6 head-to-head.
It was the first since 2014 to go to a third-set tie-break. Margin = +45 points 5-9 Shots = 152 won / 130 lost.
"It was disappointing", Federer said.
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. I have everything what I want, and I want to keep improving my game to see what can I do.
Del Potro will now head to south Florida with the other ATP players to compete in the Miami Masters.
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But it still looked like it was Federer, who brought an unbeaten to the year start into the match, who was tightening his grip on the match.
Federer missed clinching the championship when he broke del Potro at 4-4, then fluffed the opportunity when he served by allowing the Argentinian to claw his way back to level scores at 5-5.
"I was surprised how long it took him to get more and more confident coming over, but I feel like he's finally there". But for all the camaraderie, this was pure, intense competition and also a particularly fine tennis match, filled with winners on the run, drop shots and phenomenal fast-twitch defence from Federer as he repeatedly half-volleyed del Potro's huge shots from the baseline or closer to the net. I mean, we played a great level of tennis.
Unseeded Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to win the Indian Wells final, routing Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday for her first WTA Tour title. The reason for that is that there are some players who for all their talent, just can not stay injury-free for long enough to challenge for and win the biggest titles regularly. He committed six forehand errors, including one return, while contributing just one forehand return victor. There was not much between us, but you deserved it. "Well done. Enjoy the moment", Federer said.