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Del Potro Stuns Federer To Win US Open

New York, U.S.A.

Juan Martin del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro is the second South American to win the US Open.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro ended World No. 1 Roger Federer’s reign at the US Open, stunning the five-time defending champion 3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 on Monday at Flushing Meadows to capture his first Grand Slam title. It was the Swiss’ first loss at the US Open since 2003, when he fell to Argentine David Nalbandian in the fourth round.

World No. 6 Del Potro, who celebrates his 21st birthday next Wednesday, became the fifth youngest man to win the US Open title in the Open Era and became the tallest Grand Slam winner at 6’6”. He also joined countryman Guillermo Vilas as the only South American champions at the US Open; Vilas, who was in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the final Monday, won the title in 1977 when the event was contested on clay.

"Since [I was] young, I dream with this and take trophy with me," said del Potro. "I did my dream, and it's unbelievable moment. It's amazing match, amazing people. Everything is perfect."

Federer was facing his sixth different opponent in the US Open final, and came into the encounter with the edge. Whereas he was appearing in a record 21st Grand Slam final, the 20-year-old del Potro was playing in just his 14th Grand Slam tournament. Additionally, the Swiss had won all six of their previous meetings.

Federer came out ready and set the tone as he repeatedly earned break point chances in the young Argentine’s first service game. Though del Potro saved the first four chances, Federer came up with a brilliant shot on his fifth try – racing across the baseline to hit a cross-court winner.

Del Potro forced Federer to serve out the opening set by digging himself out of a 0/40 hole in the eighth game, but then was broken at love in the first game of the second set as he double-faulted on break point. With Federer two points away from clinching the second set, an overturned call set up break point for del Potro and gave the Argentine renewed vigor as he got back on serve with a winner to make it 5-5. With Federer still unhinged from the overrule, del Potro came back to win the tie-break.

Del Potro determined the outcome of the third set as he double-faulted twice in succession to put Federer just six games away from the title. "That moment I start to think the final, playing with Roger, the best player of the history, nothing to lose," said del Potro. "And be two sets to one down, but I think, okay, you never lose until the last point, so keep fighting.  The crowd help me, and they saw my fight in every point. So I think that's help me."

Federer would also be negatively affected by his own double faults. He gave del Potro the mini-break in the fourth set tie-break with a double-fault, and then hit his 11th double fault to give the Argentine his third championship point in the final game of the match.

The 20 year old is the first player to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2003, and is the fifth different player in the past five years (since 2005) to win a Grand Slam title, joining Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Marat Safin.

Del Potro had earned his place in his first Grand Slam final with a decisive win in the semi-finals – handing Nadal his most lopsided Grand Slam loss. He became the first player to post wins over both Federer and Nadal at the same Grand Slam tournament, and also became the first player this year to defeat the world's top three players, having beaten Andy Murray in Madrid this past May.

The Tandil native had come into the US Open in impressive form, having lost just one match since Wimbledon. He defended the Washington title (d. Roddick) and reached the final at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal (l. to Murray) to finish at No. 3 in the 2009 US Open Series standings. Based on his performance at the US Open, he earns a bonus $250,000 on top of the $1,600,000 champion’s prize money.

Del Potro will return to his career-high ranking of No. 5 by winning the US Open title. Last year, he finished as the youngest player in the Top 10 after enjoying a breakthrough season with his first four ATP World Tour titles in successive tournament appearances. He won 23 straight matches before his streak was snapped by Murray in the US Open quarter-finals.

The 28-year-old Federer was once again foiled in his attempt to win six straight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, a feat last achieved by Bill Tilden when he won six straight U.S. Championships from 1920-25. The Swiss had come close to the achievement in 2008 at Wimbledon, but was halted by Nadal in an epic final.

"Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too," said Federer. "Can't have them all. I've had an amazing summer and a great run. I'm not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament. Had chances today to win, but couldn't take them. It was unfortunate."

Federer’s 2009 Grand Slam campaign began with a tearful runner-up finish to Nadal at the Australian Open, but had since been exceptional. He captured the elusive Roland Garros title with victory over Robin Soderling to complete his career Grand Slam. He then outlasted Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final to become the all-time Grand Slam leader, surpassing Pete Sampras’ mark of 14 majors won.

Federer, the first man to have reached all four Grand Slam finals in the same year on three occasions, now falls to a 15-6 mark in major finals – with his five previous losses all coming against Nadal. He was attempting to win three Grand Slam titles in a calendar year for the fourth time in his career, and was also attempting to win his first as a father, with his twin daughters born this past July.

His streak of 124 consecutive match wins in Grand Slam play against opponents ranked outside the Top 5  came to an end since his last loss to No. 30 Gustavo Kuerten in the third round at Roland Garros in 2004. He had come into the final with an outstanding 18-3 career record in Grand Slam final tie-breaks, including 4-0 at the US Open, before losing both tie-breaks.

After failing to win a title through the first four months of the 2009 season, Federer has been at the top of his game - capturing five titles and compiling a 32-2 record since mid-May, his only other loss coming to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals.

"I hope I can keep it up because I'm playing great tennis right now," said the Swiss. "I'm confident and I think I'm hitting a good ball. This doesn't take away anything from how much I've achieved this year, so I've had a wonderful season in terms of Grand Slams. Next to that, I also got back to No. 1 in the world.  I hope I can defend that until the end of the year and then hopefully win the [Barclays ATP] World Tour Finals in London."

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