There’s not much between us, but you were the better player. Roger Federer
Close encounter in the desert
By Roger Childs
Roger Federer won the prestigious tournament last year beating Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5.
So far this year he had won the Australian grand slam and the Rotterdam tournament. The latter victory took him to number one in the world rankings.
Yesterday he was again in the final, this time against the talented Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.
It would be a titanic struggle.
The wonderful tennis venue
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is the second largest venue for the sport in the world.
Located over 100km inland from Los Angeles it is now owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, well know to New Zealanders as the owner of the America’s Cup yacht that bears the company name.
The annual March Indian Wells tournament attracts all the top tennis players: the largest field outside the four grand slams. Not surprisingly, scattered in the crowd are legends of the sport like Pete Sampras and Rod Laver, as well as the rich and famous from Hollywood an d Los Angeles.
A quality men’s final
This is what the crowd had come to see: two well-matched players delivering top quality tennis. There were plenty of lengthy rallies with powerful wide angled shot requiring both players to display all their amazing retrieval skills.
The serving and volleying was also very impressive, and the many classy winners which capped off excellent rallies frequently brought the crowd to their feet.
One break of serve gave Delpo the first set 6-4, and with the second going to a tie break, it looked as if Federer might lose in two. However, the Swiss maestro prevailed in the breaker 8-6 and the crowd got what it wanted: a deciding set.
Chopping and changing
Games went with serve until 4-4 and the quality of play was matching that of the previous sets. Then in the ninth game, Federer broke De Potro’s serve and went up 40-15 as he served for the match.
But Delpo dug deep and Federer made some poor shot selections. After several deuces Del Potro levelled the set at 5-5. The Swiss seemed to lose his nerve in the tie break, and the Argentine raced out to 5-0 after two Federer double faults and two other unforced errors.
The result was now inevitable, and Juan Martin Del Potro won through 4-6, 6-7, 7-6.
It was a great victory for a player who has had his share of ups and downs.
I played really well in the [third set] tiebreak … It’s like a dream after all my problems and surgeries. I’m excited to keep surprising the Tour.