Delpo Outlasts Federer: Young Argentine Defeats 5-Time Reigning Champ

K. D. JamesCorrespondent ISeptember 15, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 14:  Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina kisses the championship trophy after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the Men's Singles final on day fifteen of the 2009 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 14, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Del Potro defeated Federer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

First it started with Kim Clijsters, the queen of redemption. Clijsters, the Belgian woman who decided to put the racket down due to burnout 2½ years ago (and raised a family in the interim), returned to the hardcourt recently.

In her stunning comeback, Clijsters made quite a statement this late summer/early fall:

  • She earned the distinction of becoming the first unseeded woman to win the US Open.
  • She also became the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since the Australian great Evonne Goolagong Cawley reached that feat, 29 years earlier at the 1980 Wimbledon Championships.
  • And, of course...She beat both Williams sisters (Venus, first, in the fourth round; then Serena, later, in the controversial semifinal match), en route to her second Grand Slam title of her career against Caroline Wozniacki of Poland, 7-5, 6-3, last Sunday in the US Open.

Then, in a touching denouement, it finished with Juan Martin del Petro, the very tall David who slayed Goliath with a mighty slingshot.

Del Potro ("Delpo," for short), the 6'6", 20-year-old Argentine baseline virtuoso—of such dominant, 100-plus mile-per-hour groundstrokes—shocked the sports world by first thumping the highly-ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain in straight sets (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) on Sunday.

Sequentially, that "Rafa" victory led to an unexpectedly grueling match-up against the almost-impenetrable force that is world No. 1 Roger Federer, 28, the 15-time Grand Slam, five-time US Open winner, Monday night.

The long and entertaining five-set match—which even saw a little fire from the normally classy Swiss, over whether del Potro should have been given the chance to replay a line call that Federer was correct on—started in mid-afternoon, and didn't end until later that evening (past 8 pm), with a victorious del Potro over the relentless former champ, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. 

There is uncertainty of how historians will examine the 2009 American Championships of Tennis; but rain, injury, perseverance, unsportsmanlike (or unsportswomanlike, rather) conduct, youth and insurmountable odds are surely factors that will play a predominant role in defining the last major tournament of this year.

The predicted winners ended up not winning, as they have been accustomed to in recent Grand Slams. However, regardless of the TV ratings and expectations, the newly crowned champs at Arthur Ashe Stadium have surely given the global audience something exciting and remarkable to cheer about.