Brilliant Del Potro outlasts Federer in epic struggle

Young Argentine wrests US Open crown from five-times champion in thrilling finale

A Grand Slam year that began with Roger Federer weeping uncontrollably after losing the Australian Open final ended here last night in more disappointment for the game's greatest player. Attempting to win the US Open for the sixth year in a row, Federer was beaten 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 6-2 by Juan Martin del Potro, who claimed his first Grand Slam title after a roller-coaster of a final.



Del Potro, who will climb to No 5 in this week's updated world ranking list, has been threatening for the last year to make his Grand Slam breakthrough and showed remarkable resilience to resist the challenge of the French Open and Wimbledon champion.

Federer looked supremely confident at the start and seemed to be on the way to his 16th Grand Slam title when he led by two sets to one, but Del Potro fought back to win after more than four hours. It was Federer's third five-set Grand Slam final of the year following his defeat to Rafael Nadal in Melbourne and his victory over Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.

The world No 1 had won his previous 40 matches on these courts, with David Nalbandian, another Argentine, the last player to beat him here, in the fourth round six years ago. Guillermo Vilas, who won the US Open on clay 32 years ago, is the only other Argentine to have won the title here.

Del Potro, who was within two points of losing when he served at 4-5 and 15-30 in the fourth set, struck the ball with formidable power, using every inch of his 6ft 6in frame. The 20-year-old hit some huge forehands, though he was helped by a poor serving performance from Federer, who hit 11 double faults and only 13 aces. The Swiss played some of the big points poorly, converting only five of his 22 break points. Just as he did against Nadal in Australia, he played a particularly poor final set.

It was the third year in a row that Federer's final opponent here was a younger man playing in his first Grand Slam final, the Swiss having beaten both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in straight sets. Del Potro, however, provided a very different challenge. Federer had won all six of his previous meetings with Del Potro, although he came desperately close to losing to him in the French Open semi-finals earlier this year.

The match began in gloriously warm September sunshine, although a stiffening breeze caused more trouble as the match progressed. The 23,000-capacity crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium might have been expected to be on Federer's side, but there was plenty of support for Del Potro.

Both men were dressed all in black, but only one of them began in a mood that matched his attire. Del Potro looked sluggish, tense and uneasy and took a long time to find any rhythm in his shot-making. Any hopes Del Potro might have had that Federer would be similarly nervous were dispelled in the second game. The Argentine had already saved four break points, but on the fifth Federer hit a wonderful winner to take a 2-0 lead. Having been pulled out beyond the backhand tramlines by a firm Del Potro approach, Federer raced across to the other side of the court before cracking a superb forehand cross-court winner.

Del Potro raised hopes of a revival when he held serve from 0-40 down at 2-5, but two aces and a service winner saw Federer hold to 15 in the following game and take the first set in 40 minutes.

The second set could hardly have started more painfully for the Argentine, who dropped his serve to 15 after two double faults, but the pattern of the match turned three games later. Although Federer saved three break points to hold serve, Del Potro's confidence seemed to soar. Having looked tense and ponderous in the early stages, he was now moving much more freely.

Nevertheless, Federer was within two points of taking a two-set led when he served at 5-4, only for Del Potro to fight back and break serve for the first time with two successive forehand winners. The first came after Federer looked in disbelief at a Hawk-Eye ruling that the Argentine's shot had clipped the line. Only one point went against serve in the tie-break, Federer miscuing a forehand at 3-3, and Del Potro closed out the set with a smart inside-out forehand winner.

The third set went with serve until Del Potro broke in the seventh game when Federer hit a forehand long. The Swiss broke back immediately and then held for 5-4, but the tension was evident when he was involved in a tetchy exchange with the umpire, Jake Garner.

Federer complained that Del Potro was being given too much time after the end of points to make video replay challenges. Garner rejected the protest, upon which Federer told Garner: "Don't tell me to be quiet." Apparently referring to what Del Potro had said, Federer added: "I don't give a shit what he said." Nevertheless, it was Del Potro who lost his nerve in the next game. From 15-30 down he hit two double faults to hand Federer the set.

Del Potro drew first blood in the fourth, breaking Federer to love in the fourth game, only for the Swiss to break back for 4-4. Federer saved two break points at 5-5 and the set went into another tie-break. The Swiss served a double fault on the first point and Del Potro served out to take the match into a decider.

In comparison, the final set was a non-contest. Del Potro raced into a 3-0 lead and although Federer saved two match points when serving at 2-5 the Argentine was not to be denied. On the third, after Federer had double-faulted, the Swiss hit a backhand long to give Del Potro the greatest moment of his life.

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
Sport
Jose Mourinho, Chelsea players celebrate Demba Ba's goal and Gus Poyet
sportLive coverage of today's final game between Chelsea and Sunderland
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
VIDEO
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit