Miami, Ricky Dimon
It will be Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro in round two of the Miami Open on Friday afternoon.
Del Potro assured that the highly-anticipated showdown would become a reality when he got the best of fellow Argentine Guido Pella 6-0, 7-6(3) on the opening day of main-draw action on Wednesday night. The former world No. 4 held all nine of his service games to advance after one hour and 29 minutes.
Contesting his third tournament of 2016, Del Potro got off to an emphatic start at the expense of his countryman. Pella had been in outstanding form following a February swing that included a runner-up finish in Rio de Janeiro, but he had no answer for Del Potro in the first set. The world No. 39 won just 14 points in the opener and failed to convert any of his two break opportunities.
Pella managed to make the second set competitive even though he became even more hopeless against his opponent’s serve. Del Potro surrendered only seven points in his last six service games but was pushed to a tiebreaker soon after missing a match point with Pella serving at 4-5. Pella got a mini-break back late in the ‘breaker with a net-cord winner, but Del Potro won two consecutive return points at 5-4 and 6-4 to seal the deal.
“I made it through and I’m so, so happy for the chance to play against Roger after tomorrow,” Del Potro told the crowd.
Due to the world No. 366’s recent inactivity related to multiple left-wrist surgeries, Federer and Del Potro have not squared off since the 2013 World Tour Finals. Before Del Potro started succumbing to physical problems, this rivalry was shaping up to be one of the sport’s best even though Federer has a comfortable 15-5 lead in the head-to-head series. The two veterans have engaged in several memorable meetings, including in the 2009 U.S. Open final (won by Del Potro) and in the semis of the 2012 London Olympics (won by Federer).
Joining Del Potro in the Miami second round on Wednesday were 18-year-olds Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz, just to name a few. To at least a small degree, Zverev erased the demons of his brutal fourth-round loss in Indian Wells to Rafael Nadal by holding off Michael Mmoh 7-6(3), 7-6(4). Also in the midst of a breakout 2016 campaign, Fritz took care of Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-2.