Invincible Del Potro Delivers Awe-Inspiring Performance

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IApril 3, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - APRIL 02:  Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts after winning a game against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 2, 2009 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Scattered applause.

Several fans rise, waving flags nervously. A mixed chant arises from the crowd, soft at first.

"Del-Po, Del-Po, Del-Po."

He starts to win a few more points, to level the set. Louder chants from the crowd and with every point he wins, the chanting resounds like a chorus.

"Del-Po! Del-Po! Del-Po!"


Was this a tennis match, or a football match? Fans, clad in red and yellow, looked on in awe at what they were witnessing. 

Frustration and questioning from one side. Strength and toughness on the other side.

They rose in unison, chanting again, getting louder every time.


The chair didn't know what to do. The Bull was no longer in total command. 

Stadium Court was like a volcano, ready to burst at anything. They could feel it coming, any misstep would lead them into uncontrollable joy. 

There it was.

The Raging Bull, a look of utter disbelief painted on his face.

Juan Martin Del Potro on the other hand, didn't even know how to express his happiness after such a monumental victory.

The crowd were happy to help.


Del Potro's performance came in the wake of one of the biggest upsets in Argentinian football history, as they collapsed to a 6-1 defeat in Bolivia yesterday.

Today, total role reversal.

20-year-old Juan Martin Del Potro had produced an impossible upset, defeating Rafael Nadal in Miami.

6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) read the local box score.

Misprint? No, today isn't April Fool's Day.

He barely had enough in the tank to defeat the No. 1 player in the world, but the key word there is "barely."

The Raging Bull had been scraping by narrowly all tournament and admitted that he had not made the proper adjustments to the Miami conditions yet. 

The match started out ordinarily for the most part; Nadal serving in what figured to be a set of "who can break first wins".

Del Potro's service had been rock solid, dropping only one service game in the tournament, but those things have a way of changing quickly when facing the Bull.

However, it was the young Argentine who was putting pressure on his opponents' serve.

He had a pair of early break point chances, neither of which he converted. Nadal continued to play with fire, with Del Porto's power game getting to him.

Del Potro shrugged off the only break point he was faced with on serve, and came right back out to earn himself the only break of the set.

Serving for the set, he made no mistake and coolly composed himself for a 1-0 advantage.

A brief rain delay seemed to do wonders for Nadal.

He came out in the second set, looking like a new player. He finally converted on a few break points and dashed out to a 5-2 lead in the set.

Now, this is what we were expecting to see from Rafa.

He soon took the second set to even it at one all.

The third set quickly appeared to be more of the same, as Nadal dashed out to a 3-0 lead.

He looked more relaxed. Maybe that first set was an aberration. But not so fast, said the big Argentine. 

He came roaring right back, and soon took a 4-3 lead. Del Potro's size, power and (gasp) athleticism had Nadal on his heels.

In what looked like a simple final set for the Spaniard, Del Potro had quickly turned the tide. Now, Nadal was serving for his life every time he approached the line.

Del Potro was getting to the net more and doing more once he got there. Nadal was struggling to find answers to such an overwhelming net presence.

It took everything he had, but he willed it to a third set tiebreak for all the marbles.

"Del-Po" was up to the task once again. After surrendering a mini-break, he came right back and took both points off the Nadal serve.

From there on, it was a look of shock from Nadal and quiet joy from Del Potro. 7-3 in the tiebreak.

Another great day for tennis.


Juan Martin Del Potro

"I beat him with my mind and my game. When we played long points, I was dominating every time. I beat the No. 1. If you don't play unbelievable, you cannot beat him. But yes, they [the crowd] helped me a lot today."

Rafael Nadal

"I played really bad all the time. When I have it three all in the third, I played worse. It was an amazing disaster. Wonderful for the crowd, terrible for me."

  • Both players fired eight aces and broke four times. Despite Nadal winning more points (101-99), he hit less forehand winners and won far less net points. 
  • Juan Martin Del Potro will face Andy Murray in the semifinals, while Novak Djokovic will take on Roger Federer in the bottom half. 

But seriously, thanks a lot Juan Martin. You're making me look like an idiot. I'm now 0-3 in my quarterfinal predictions. At least Murray will get me that elusive win (I hope).


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