2009 US Open champ del Potro saves match points, stuns Thiem
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 05, 2017 09:14 AM
Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, returns a shot from Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro's stay at the U.S. Open really should be long over. Nearly was.
The 2009 champion at Flushing Meadows somehow kept staving off defeat in the fourth round against No. 6-seeded Dominic Thiem on Monday. Del Potro was sick and certainly looked sluggish as can be at the outset, dropping the opening two sets with little resistance. Then he trailed by a big margin in the fourth set, even facing two match points.
Still, del Potro never gave in or gave up, eventually working his way all the way back on the strength of powerful serves and thunderous forehands to edge Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 over more than 3½ hours and reach the quarterfinals.
"Thanks so much for all the support you gave," del Potro told the boisterous Grandstand crowd that regaled the 24th-seeded Argentine with "Ole!" chants. "It helped me a lot. ... I won't forget this match."
Thiem also aided del Potro by playing his worst tennis when he was closest to victory in the fourth set, which he led 5-2. Thiem served for the match at 5-3, but got broken. Leading 6-5, he managed to get within a point of winning at 15-40 on del Potro's serve, but a pair of aces at 127 mph and 121 mph erased those two chances. The ensuing tiebreaker was dominated by del Potro, who closed it with a booming cross-court forehand winner on the run.
In the fifth set, del Potro closed things on his second match point, when Thiem double-faulted. How close was this? Thiem actually won more points, 141-139.
When it was over, del Potro raised both arms overhead and threw his head back, enjoying the fans' adulation, then crossed himself. He joked that he thought he should get a trophy just for winning this one.
It was by far the day's most enthralling match, with spectators' roars heard all the way across the grounds at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Roger Federer was playing Philipp Kohlschreiber. Del Potro will play the winner of that match next.