Juan Martin Del Potro returned to the winner circle today. Del Potro fought off Janko Tipsarevic in the final of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships with a 6-4,6-4 victory to earn his first tour title since the 2009 U.S. Open.
At the conclusion of his semifinal match last evening, Del Potro emphasized that despite being exhausted he would give it his all in the final. Early on, Del Potro looked conspicuously fatigued. Although the Argentine held easily his first service game, it was more a consequence of Tipsarevic making too many errors. After getting ahead 2-1, Tipsarevic lined up a backhand down the line winner beautifully to secure double break point. As a result of a Tipsarevic errant forehand and a questionable second serve ace, Del Potro got to deuce. After giving the umpire a piece of his mind, Tipsarevic connected on a forehand crosscourt winner for a third break point. That time when Del Potro misfired with the backhand down the line, Tipsarevic had the break for a 3-1 edge and later consolidated. Despite difficulties, Del Potro guarded serve the subsequent game. Next, showing a burst of energy for the first time, Del Potro sprinted to track down a Tipsarevic dropshot and put it away for a winner. With that Del Potro had break point. He converted when Tipsarevic’s forehand up the line landed long. After quickly getting to 4 all, Del Potro provoked a forehand miscue from Tipsarevic on game point for deuce. With two additional mistakes by Tipsarevic, Del Potro obtained the break and a 5-4 advantage. Serving for the set, Del Potro had two shots go off course and double faulted to hand Tipsarevic triple break point. By hanging tough and serving well, Del Potro arrived at deuce. The Argentine wiped out two more break points and ultimately on his third chance secured the opening set.
Despite outplaying Del Potro in the previous set, Tipsarevic found himself behind in the scoreboard. Nevertheless, the Serb attempted to soldier on. The initial game of the second set, thanks to his long wing span, Del Potro caught up with a backhand volley from Tipsarevic and struck a backhand pass for a winner for break point. With great defense, Tipsarevic denied Del Potro the game. Five game points later, Tipsarevic captured the first game. Following a couple of comfortable service games, at 2 all, Tipsarevic fumbled a backhand down the line to give Del Potro double break point. The Serb then double faulted to gift Del Potro a 3-2 lead. Later, with a forehand volley winner, Tipsarevic manufactured double break point of his own. Yet, on both occasions, he was turned away. Tipsarevic had two more opportunities to break in that game, but Del Potro shut him out. After salvaging his eleventh out of twelve break points, Del Potro consolidated for 4-2. Although Tipsarevic continued to press, Del Potro aided by a vocal Argentine public held on for a 5-3 lead. Serving for the match, Del Potro revved up the mph on the serve to get to triple championship point. When Tipsarevic’s forehand crosscourt sailed long, Del Potro captured the title.
In analyzing the match, Tipsarevic iterated that it boiled down to “not executing well. . . .and not taking my chances”. For Tipsarevic, the first set was pivotal because “I was disappointed that I lost it even though Del Potro was not playing his game”.
Del Potro was frank in saying “I think [Janko] deserved to win the first set. . . I was trying to focus on my serve [the first set] because I knew it was only one break. . . I knew I would have the opportunity to comeback. . . When I had it, I took it. I had a little bit of luck granted. . . My forehand began to work which helped me in closing out the first set”.
Since today was Del Potro’s first daytime match of the tournament, he was asked whether the shift in climate was a factor: “Today it was very hot and I did feel it. I felt strange [at the start of the match], I did not have much energy. . . [As a result], I did play under my level. . . But in a final you have to win any you can, your form doesn’t matter. . . You have to leave it all out there on the court after the match then [you] can rest”.
Putting this victory in perspective, Del Potro cited that it’s quite special ‘this is a win to share with my family and friends who have stuck by me through all the good and bad I have endured the last few months’. When Del Potro was asked whether this triumph means he is all the way back, the Argentine answered: “It always helps to win matches and tournaments, but I am not all the way back”. Would beating the guys in the top ten be the barometer as far as that piece of the puzzle is concerned? Del Potro replied: “Yes, that is an important part . . . I played [Fernando] Verdasco and [Andy] Roddick, the ball feels different playing against them . . . My game and my mind [will need time to adjust again] to beat these types of players”.
With the full load he has had the last three weeks, Del Potro stated he will need to rest. Consequently, at this instance, he is not sure whether he will be making the trip to Indian Wells. From a ranking of 166, on Monday, Del Potro will be back inside the top 100.