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Del Potro Captures Fourth Straight ATP Title

Washington, D.C. USA

Juan Martin del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro after winning the Legg Masson Tennis Classic

Argentine teenager Juan Martin del Potro continued his remarkable run of form by capturing his fourth straight ATP title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Viktor Troicki in the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington D.C. on Sunday.

The victory takes del Potro’s winning streak to 19 matches, which is the second longest on the ATP circuit behind Rafael Nadal (32) this season. It is the longest by a teenager since Nadal’s 24 successive victories in 2005 and the joint third longest in history from an Argentine (Vilas 44, Clerc 28, Vilas 19). Prior to del Potro's 19-match winning streak, only one player ranked outside the Top 10 in the last 20 years had won at least 15 consecutive matches - Karel Novacek (15) in 1992.

"I'm very happy," said del Potro." I don't really understand what I did. I have no words to describe the feeling I have in this moment. It is difficult to believe that I have won four consecutive titles. I just want to enjoy this moment."

The 19-year-old’s run began in Stuttgart, where he defeated Richard Gasquet to claim his maiden ATP singles title. The following week he won his second title in Kitzbuhel, defeating home favorite Jurgen Melzer in the final. Last week, the right-hander defeated World No. 6 Andy Roddick to win his first hard-court title in Los Angeles. He is now second only to Nadal (8) on the list of 2008 ATP title leaders.

His success has lifted him to a career-high South African Airways ATP Ranking of No. 19; he started the year at No. 50 and is the only teenager ranked inside the Top 20.

Looking ahead, del Potro said: "I want to do well at the US Open. I think I have the conditions and the game to do well there. It is the biggest tournament for me. It is my dream to win the US Open."

In capturing four straight titles he becomes the first player in ATP history to win his first four titles in as many tournaments. He is now the 12th different teenager to win at least four titles in a season; 10 of the previous 11 all reached No. 1 in their career.

Tandil resident del Potro has raced to victory this week for the loss of just one set, surrendered to Dudi Sela in the second round. In Saturday’s semifinal he knocked out fourth-seeded German Tommy Haas 6-2, 6-1.

In the 1 hr., 32 min., title match on Sunday, del Potro fired five aces and dropped only seven points behind his first serve throughout. Troicki, who suffered with back pain in the match, squandered opportunities, failing to capitalize on six of seven break point chances, while del Potro was much more potent, converting four of nine chances.

"It was my first time playing Viktor," said del Potro. "I was confident I could do well. I was the favorite for today's final and had some more pressure on me. I also didn't want to lose my winning streak. I didn't play so well, but I was able to win the big points and that was the difference of the match."

Added Troicki: "Del Potro is playing like a Top 10 right now. He is not very far from being a Top 10 in the rankings. He can go very far in the US Open. He has a good game. He should be one of the best players on the circuit in the next years."

The 6’6 del Potro is the first Latin American to win the Legg Mason Tennis Classic since Ecuadorian Andres Gomez in 1984 (d. Krickstein). He now improves to 28-8 for the season.

The 22-year-old Troicki was through to his maiden ATP singles final and was bidding to become the eighth first-time ATP winner this season. He enjoyed a strong run through to the final, including recording just his second Top 10 victory with a win over No. 9 Andy Roddick, a three-time champion, in the quarterfinals.

"Right now I feel a little disappointed that I lost," said Troicki. "But this is a normal feeling after losing a match. Overall I am very happy to have played my first ATP final in my career. I will try to enjoy this moment. I'm a little sad for having problems with my back. It is a bit sore. It hurts me to serve and make some other movements."

The 6’4 right-hander now slips to a 12-13 record on the season. Prior to this week his highlight was a quarterfinal exit at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Canas) in June. This is only the second time this season that the World No. 93 has won back-to-back ATP main draw matches.


 

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