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Del Potro Qualifies After Three-Set Win Over Federer; Group Positions On Hold

London, England

del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro improves to 65-16 on the season after his three-set win over Roger Federer at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday.

Juan Martin del Potro broke Roger Federer's 12-match winning streak at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday to qualify for the semi-finals from Group B. A capacity crowd of 17,800 watched the match at The O2 in London.

As a result of 2007 runner-up David Ferrer beating eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the evening session, Federer finishes top of the round robin group. He will play third seed Andy Murray in Saturday's semi-finals. Second-placed Del Potro takes on top seed and 2008 titlist Novak Djokovic.

Sixth seed del Potro improved to 2-1 in Group B after he defeated six-time champion and second seed Federer 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 in just over two hours. Del Potro lost to Nikolay Davydenko in the title match at the 2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

For the first time in 10 years, Federer has been beaten by the same player on an indoor court. Del Potro, who also defeated Federer in the Swiss Indoors Basel final, said, “It's a surprise for me now. I just was thinking about my game, trying to beat him and go to the semis. Here I am feeling confidence with my game. My serve is working really well. Maybe the surface helps to play short rallies, to be aggressive all the time. That, for my game, is a very good advantage.”

Federer complemented del Potro by saying, “He’s doing a good job, playing clean tennis, bringing the heat on the serve, hitting his shots when he has to. His credit for really making it difficult for me in the last four [matches] at least, I'd say. I hope I didn't have to lose against him again today. But [it is a] good effort by his side to get me twice in a row now."

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FedererIn the opening stages of the much-anticipated match-up, Federer applied early pressure. At 4-4, del Potro saved three break points with an ace, powerful forehand and a Federer error. The Swiss was noticably annoyed, particicularly after losing six straight points from a 2-1 advantage in the tie-break. By the end of the set, Federer had committed 21 unforced errors. Del Potro clinched his third set point chance on serve, finishing a 52-minute set.

Federer immediately took stock. He broke del Potro to love, hitting two winners in the first game of the second set. Federer maintained the lead through the set, creating one set point at 5-4, 30/30, with a forehand approach winner into space. He levelled the score at one-set apiece with an ace out wide. He won 20 of his 25 service points and made just eight errors in the 35-minute set. 

Hawkeye was in operation on three occasions early in the decider, before del Potro moved up through the gears. Parking himself in the Ad court, he used his forehand with almighty effect. Federer hit two straight backhands in the net at 0-1 and del Potro seized the initiative with a backhand pass. Federer was broken. The writing was on the wall. Del Potro lost just two points in his next four service games to improve to 8-17 lifetime against Top 2-ranked players. He also beat Federer en route to the 2009 final at The O2.

“At the end, I was thinking maybe [this] could be my last service game of the year if I lose against him,” said del Potro. “So I put all my concentration [to the task] when I was serving.

del Potro"He's still the favorite to win the tournament, with [Andy] Murray and [Novak] Djokovic…I don't know who is the No. 1 favourite. Djokovic, Murray or Federer can win the tournament. I can tell you, I'm the No. 4 for sure. Anything can happen. I beat Federer, Novak and Andy long time ago, so maybe if I have lucky, [I] can repeat here.”

Del Potro is now 65-16 on the year, which includes four ATP World Tour titles, with his 40th match win on a hard court.

Federer hit 12 aces and 43 winners in his 17th match against del Potro, He drops to a 70-11 match record in 2012, but remains in the hunt to become the first player since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to win three straight season-ending championships.

“I had a good feeling going into the match,” said Federer. “[It was] definitely the right game plan. [I] broke him very easily all of a sudden at the beginning of the second. Thought I was a bit of a better player in the first maybe. Next thing you know, it's like a struggle at the end of the second, [I] didn't really get into his serves any more in the third."

“But [the] important [thing] is to move on right now, to be quite honest, not talk too much about this match for me. Mentally, it's important to look ahead and rest because it's a quick turnaround for tomorrow. I tried everything I could and was a bit frustrated at times, but it shouldn't affect me tomorrow.”

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