JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO stunned Roger Federer and the tennis world – and continued his own fairytale.
While many dreamed of a first US Open clash between Federer and Rafael Nadal, the big Argentinian announced his return to the big league with a 7-5 3-6 7-6 6-4 win in the quarter finals.
Del Potro beat not only Federer but also the virus which had affected him during his epic win over Dominic Thiem – and he even won over the crowd.
The No 24 seed said: “I did what the doctor says, all the treatments, and tonight I play just free.
“I don’t have nothing to lose against Federer, so I did my best game of the tournament tonight. I play very smart game during the whole match.
“Is so important to me beating him another time in this amazing tournament.
“It’s amazing to see the crowd like this. Against Federer is not easy to show the fans love.
“You know, he’s local around the world, around every tournament. Tonight people want to see a great tennis match. The people wants to win both, both player, I think.
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“To me, it’s great after all my wrist problems, come back and see how much the loves from the fans comes to me is great.”
Maybe Federer and Nadal are destined never to play each other in the Big Apple despite more than a decade as rivals.
And maybe it is written in the stars that Del Potro will shake off years of injury problems in the city where he won his only Grand Slam, eight years ago.
Federer was the victim on that memorable night and the 36 year old once more could not withstand the power of the Tower of Tandil.
After an exchange of sets, the match turned on the third set tiebreak.
Federer had recovered from 0-3 down in the set just to force it and was ahead 4-2 in the breaker as they changed ends.
But the great Swiss faltered on four set points and Del Potro claimed it 10-8.
The Argentinian broke midway through the fourth set and then served it out in a dramatic 10th game as the crowd roared both for him and for the match to go into a decider.
Federer, whose preparations for the event had been hampered by a back problem, said he had never been thinking about the possibility of playing Nadal at last – and that Del Potro had a better chance of beating the rampant Spaniard.
Federer said: “ I’m dealing with just trying to understand what happened and just to overcome this in the next few hours, days, weeks, whatever it is, you know..
“Of course it is a pity, but, you know, Juan Martin deserves it more. I feel I have no place in the semis and he will have a better chance to beat Rafa, to be honest.
“I might have depended too much on my opponent [in previous matches], and I don’t like that feeling. I had it throughout the tournament.
“I just felt that way every single match I went into.
“I didn’t have that feeling at Wimbledon or at the Australian Open, and that’s why rightfully I’m out of this tournament.
“Because I wasn’t good enough, in my mind, in my body, and in my game to overcome these three pillars.
“If you’re missing all three, it’s going to be tough. I’m okay with it, and I tried until the very end.
“Smashing certain stuff in the net that I normally wouldn’t, smashing forehand volleys into the back fence… I mean, that stuff sucked. You know, honestly, it was terrible.”
“The way I played or playing right now, it’s not good enough in my opinion to win this tournament. It’s better I’m out and somebody else gets a chance to do better than me.”
Earlier Madison Keys had ensured that the women’s singles semi finals tonight would be an all-American affair – for the first time since 1981.
Keys beat Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-3 to complete a full house for the home nation, after Coco Vandeweghe had beaten world No 1 Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-3.
Keys and Vandeweghe will square off in the second night match, following the clash between Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens.
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