Sunday, March 17, 2013

Del Potro ends Djokovic's winning streak

   It has been a long road back for Juan Martin del Potro.
   After using his percussive serve and forehand to shock Roger Federer and win the 2009 U.S. Open, del Potro underwent surgery on his right (playing) wrist in 2010 and missed eight months.
   The 24-year-old Argentine took another big step in his return on Saturday with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   "I was doing a very good match until the third set, but Novak had the chance to beat me when I was down 3-love," del Potro, ranked and seeded seventh, said on "But I came back soon, and that gave me a little confidence to come back in that set. Then also the crowd wanted to watch more tennis, and [it] helped me to play my best tennis in the end. I think it was my best match in this tournament, for sure."
Novak Djokovic suffered his first loss since last
October. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
    Djokovic had won 22 straight matches dating to last October, including his third straight Australian Open title in January.
   "All the credit to my opponent today," he said. "He deserved to win because he was more composed in the important moments, and he played the right shots. He stepped into the court, where, on the other side, I made a lot of unforced errors and was at the back of the court [and was] too passive."
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Del Potro will meet fifth-seeded Rafael Nadal in today's final at 2 p.m. or later (ESPN2). Nadal, who won the title in 2007 and 2009, advanced with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Nadal won the last four games of the match.
   Nadal is 7-3 lifetime against del Potro, but the series is tied 3-3 on hardcourts. Nadal, who returned to the circuit in February after missing seven months because of a knee injury and then a virus, has won both of their meetings at Indian Wells in straight sets.
   Also, Nadal will be fresher than del Potro. The 26-year-old Spaniard has won his last two matches in straight sets, while del Potro has been extended to three sets on back-to-back 95-degree Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) days. Del Potro defeated third-ranked Andy Murray 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1 on Friday.
   Meanwhile, top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan from the nearby Los Angeles area finally won the men's doubles title at Indian Wells. Playing in the tournament for the 15th straight year, they edged Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 match tiebreaker.
   Second-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia will face eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark for the women's title today at noon (ESPN2) in a matchup of former Indian Wells champions. Sharapova triumphed in 2006 and Wozniacki in 2011.
    Sharapova has a career record of 4-2 against Wozniacki, although the series is tied 2-2 on hardcourts.
   No. 12 Pepperdine def. No. 16 Cal 4-3 in Berkeley. No. 1 singles: No. 57 Ben McLachlan (C) def. No. 11 Sebastian Fanselow 6-2, 6-3. Records: Pepperdine 11-4, Cal 7-6.
   Sacramento State def. Southern Utah 7-0 in Cedar City, Utah. No. 1 singles: Aliaksandr Malko (SS) def. Troy Benson 6-0, 6-2. Records: Sac State 6-9 overall, 3-0 Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah 0-3, 0-3.
   Purdue def. Santa Clara 4-3 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: No. 68 John Lamble (SC) def. Szymon Tatarczyk 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Records: Purdue 13-3, Santa Clara 11-6.
   Nevada def. Pacific 5-2 in Stockton. No. 1 singles: Michelle Okhremchuk (N) def. Iveta Masarova 6-1, 6-4. Records: Nevada 5-4 overall, 0-1 Mountain West Conference. Pacific 6-7, 1-1 Big West Conference.
   UC Davis def. Cal State Fullerton 6-1 in Fullerton. No. 1 singles: Megan Heneghan (UCD) def. Tiffany Mai 6-1, 6-3. Records: UC Davis 6-8 overall, 2-1 Big West Conference. Cal State Fullerton 8-9, 2-4.

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