Federer and del Potro: ‘It’s a great story’

Remember back when Juan Martin del Potro couldn’t even nail a winner with his one-handed backhand? But recently, his arm and wrist have recovered. His confidence grew and grew. After his multiple surgeries, del Potro stopped his two-handed backhand and he chipped the one-hander almost all the time. But over the last year or so, he became to use a two-hander here and there. He uses it more and more frequently. Last week, he won Indian Wells over Roger Federer in the final. The two-hander is back.

In Miami, Federer wasn’t that surprised.  

“In the beginning he was chipping a lot, for quite a while, actually. I was surprised how long it took him to get more and more confident coming over, but I feel like he’s finally there,” Federer said. “I feel like he looks good on the backhand now. Basically to his old self, probably a confidence thing. But what’s interesting is that he put himself out there with no double-hander almost, but just happy to slice and still take losses. I guess because he knew it was going to probably not be enough against some players, but he was happy enough playing this way, which I admire a lot. He’s won a Masters 1000. It’s a great story.”

Yes, really great story.

Federer has won 20 Grand Slams, while del Potro has won just one. However, del Potro is 4 to 2 in the finals against the Swiss. Overall, though, Federer has won 18 wins and seven losses against the Argentine. It is very likely play against each other sometime. Perhaps in Miami next week? Possible.

As Federer said, the Indian Wells final was as tough match.

“Should I have won the [2009] US Open finals [which del Potro won]? I could have, should have. I didn’t,” Federer said. “Same [at Indian Wells]. So that would have changed the whole thing around.

“But he stuck around, like most players who go deep in a tournament, the better they start playing. So clearly the tougher they [are] to beat. But, of course, I have had a few wins against him when he was still younger, where I almost had to win because, he wasn’t quite there yet. So that’s why I also have a better head-to-head. I’m not sure why the final record is the way it is. A lot of them have been extremely tight. Most of them have gone the distance, so it’s been tough against him.”

Reporter Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald, talking with Roger Federer:

Q: If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?
A: A retired soccer player by now. I was hoping to be a soccer player once upon a time. I liked midfield and scoring goals, but in the end I chose tennis because I didn’t want to blame the goalie or defender, I wanted to be in total control.”

Me, too, being in control.

Simona Halep likes to grind, and she does, but to start the tournament when it took more than two hours to beat Oceane Dodin 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, it won’t be easy to go all the way now. … Madison Keys retired in the second set against Vika Azarenka because her leg was pretty sore. Or worse. The first three months on the hardcourts haven’t helped Keys. … Sloane Stephens won easily against Ajla Tomljanovic. She says that it is one of her favorite tournaments. Really? Truly? Then win it. … Australian Matthew Ebden overcame Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-5. Will he go deeper? … American Ryan Harrison lost against Joao Sousa 7-6, 7-6. The tiebreaks can be so worrisome for Harrison. 


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