Del Potro stuns Federer to seal semis spot



AGENCIES

Published — Sunday 11 November 2012

Last update 11 November 2012 3:37 am

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LONDON: Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro claimed a surprise 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over defending champion Roger Federer yesterday to book his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals.
Del Potro’s victory ended Federer’s 12-match winning run at the season-ending event and guaranteed he will qualify from Group B along with the Swiss star.
Federer, who has won the Tour Finals title for the last two years, already knew he was through after winning his first two group matches at London’s O2 Arena.
The semifinal match-ups will not be decided until after the final group match between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic, which was to be played later in the night.
Victory for Ferrer would mean it is Federer who plays Andy Murray with del Potro playing Novak Djokovic, while a Tipsarevic win would reverse the fixtures.
Federer had won 13 of his previous 16 meetings, but the Argentine has given him plenty of trouble at times.
As well as winning his only Grand Slam title with a win over Federer at the 2009 US Open, del Potro also handed the 31-year-old his only other indoor defeat in the last two years in the final of his hometown tournament in Basle last month.
That pattern continued as a tight first set saw sixth-seeded del Potro save three break points to keep Federer at bay.
Then in the tie break, Federer suddenly lost his rhythm and del Potro took advantage to snatch the first set.
Federer made a strong response, reeling off eight successive points to break at the start of the second set, and that was enough to level the match.
But del Potro’s big-hitting style blew Federer off course again in the deciding set.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was unable to survive the barrage and del Potro broke for a 2-0 lead before holding his nerve to serve out a superb win in two hours.
Bryan brothers beaten
India’s Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek enjoyed a surprise 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 10/7 win over the top seeded Bryan brothers to clinch first place in Group A at the ATP Tour Finals yesterday.
Paes and Stepanek had already booked their place in today’s semifinals after winning their opening two group fixtures, but they didn’t take it easy against Bob and Mike Bryan at London’s O2 Arena.
After winning a tight first set, the pair were pegged back in the second, which the Americans won on a tie-break.
That meant a super tie break was needed to settle the match and Paes and Stepanek took it on their second match point.
Paes and Stepanek’s victory gives them the only 100 percent record of the eight doubles teams competing at the season-ending event and means they will play India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in the semifinals.
That promises to be a bitter battle after Bhupathi refused to be partnered with Paes during the London Olympics earlier this year.
Bhupathi and Paes had a successful doubles partnership for several years, but split up when their relationship deteriorated.
Paes and Stepanek will hope to repeat their victory over Bhupathi and Bopanna in the final of the Shanghai Masters earlier this year.

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