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Semifinal matches in a major tennis tournament are never easy—not even for the great Roger Federer.
But if there was ever a mismatch so deep in a bracket, this was it: Federer, ranked No. 1 and coming off his seventh Wimbledon title, versus Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, a former top-five mainstay on the wane.
That is until the match started and del Potro, who came in with an 0-5 record against Federer this year, took the first set 6-3 behind an arresting display of power tennis.
After Federer evened matters with a tiebreak win in the second, the pair went to a decisive third that lasted 36 games and almost three hours.
Federer prevailed 19-17, advancing to his first-ever Olympic singles final.