London 2012 Olympics: Roger Federer outguns Juan Martin del Potro in marathon duel to reach final
Roger Federer is one victory away from his first Olympic singles gold medal after a remarkable 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) 19-17 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals yesterday, with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic due on court last night to decide who will take him on for the gold.
The match lasted four hours and 26 minutes, surpassing Rafael Nadal’s victory over Djokovic at the Madrid Masters in 2009 as the longest three-set men’s singles match in the Open era.
Federer, who won gold in the men’s doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka in 2008, is now guaranteed at least a silver medal, while Del Potro must recover to battle for bronze tomorrow after leaving Centre Court in tears.
Del Potro’s record on grass is not particularly impressive, while he had faced Federer five times already this season and lost all of them.
The eighth seed had snuck through the draw rather unnoticed but was immediately on form in the first set. Federer was a bit error-prone, and he paid the price as Del Potro broke for 5-3 and then served it out.
The second was a very tense affair, with break points for both men, but it was Del Potro who was looking the more dangerous as he pushed Federer back with his thunderous forehand.
But the world No 1 hung on, showing the cool temperament that has helped him to a record 17 grand slam titles, and in the tie-break it was Del Potro who cracked.
Federer saved two break points at the start of the decider but from there it was he who began to threaten more.
Del Potro would not yield though, finding big serves and even bigger groundstrokes when he needed them most.
On and on they went, the Argentinian saving a break point at 7-7 and then picking up a sore hip with a full-length diving volley to hold on in the 17th game.
But Del Potro was finding it harder and harder to withstand the pressure and he finally cracked at 9-9, shanking a forehand to leave Federer serving for the match.
That looked to be that, but surprisingly Federer could not take his opportunity and was promptly broken back to love.
His next chance came at 14-14 when Del Potro slipped to 0-40, but all three chances came and went as the clock ticked towards four hours and then past it.
Federer had a few sticky moments of his own but prevented Del Potro creating a match point, and in the 35th game he finally broke through again to lead 18-17.
An exhausted Del Potro buried his face in his shirt, and this time it was the crucial blow, although there was still time for Federer to miss a simple volley on his first match point before clinching it when his opponent netted a backhand.
Meanwhile, first-time Olympian Maria Sharapova advanced to the women’s final by beating Russian team-mate Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3.
Sharapova’s opponent today will be Serena Williams or No 1-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who were on Centre Court last night before the Murray-Djokovic clash.
In the men’s doubles Mike and Bob Bryan are assured of at least a silver medal. The top-seeded American pair defeated Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet of France, 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-finals yesterday.
“We’re leaving the Olympics with a medal, which is awesome,” said Mike Bryan, who won bronze with his twin brother in Beijing in 2008.
“To play for a gold medal, it’s special. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to go out there and give it everything we’ve got.”
Today, the Bryans play the winner of the other semi-final between David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez of Spain and Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. “Tomorrow’s going to be pretty insane,” Bob Bryan said. “It could be our last shot at Olympic glory. I’m very happy that we do have a medal because semi-finals is no guarantee that you’re leaving with the hardware.”
The pair have 11 Grand Slam titles, but rate an Olympic medal as the ultimate achievement. “Every sports fan in the world knows what an Olympic medal is,” Bob Bryan said. “Not necessarily do they know what a Wimbledon title is. I think that would be at the front of the trophy case for sure.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east