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Del Potro Denies Benneteau To Win 14th Title

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

del Potro© Henk KosterJuan Martin del Potro won his 14th tour-level title.

World No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro captured his 14th tour-level title on Sunday as he inflicted yet more ATP World Tour final heartache on Julien Benneteau in Rotterdam. The Argentine dealt Benneteau his eighth defeat in as many finals with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

"It's amazing. I'm so happy to win this tournament,” said del Potro. “I played really well from the first round to the final. I think I played the way I needed to, to win this kind of tournament.”

The 24-year-old del Potro had finished runner-up at this ATP World Tour 500 indoor tournament last year (l. to Federer) and defeated Benneteau in one hour and 37 minutes to go one better. As victor, del Potro received 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €305,000 in prize money. He is the second Argentine to triumph in Rotterdam, following Guillermo Vilas in 1982.

Del Potro can count the 2009 US Open trophy among his collection. He won four titles last year, three of those indoors. The Tandil native improved to a 14-5 record in tour-level finals. He has a 67-32 record indoors (4-3 in finals).

The second-seeded Del Potro had not dropped serve in four matches this week, holding all 40 service games and saving the nine break points he had faced. That run came to an end instantly against Benneteau as the Frenchman broke for an early 2-0 lead in the final. 

Del Potro quickly hit his stride and reeled off four straight games, but Benneteau fought back in the 10th game to break the Argentine and force a tie-break. Del Potro withstood the Frenchman’s challenge to take the first set in the tie-break and carried his momentum into the second set with an early service break to lead 3-0.

Benneteau rallied hard, but the biggest problem del Potro faced in the second set was an untimely nose bleed. Having missed four match points on Benneteau’s serve in the eighth game, del Potro needed a short break with medical assistance to stem his nose bleed, and was forced to serve out the match with a cotton wool plug. Undeterred, he closed out the victory with a love service game.  

"I had been serving well all week, but at the beginning of the match I was nervous and he broke me,” said del Potro. “Then in the second set I felt confident on my first serve and didn't give him a chance to break me. I closed the match with a fantastic service game. He deserved to be in the final. He played a really good match today. He was fighting all the time and I think I did a very good job today."

"I have a big nose!" joked del Potro about the nose bleed he suffered. "Maybe it was nerves, getting close to finishing the match and winning the tournament. But it was not dangerous and I felt fine to close out the match at 5-3."

The 31-year-old Benneteau had stunned top seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, recording his 200th tour-level win, before ousting fifth-seeded countryman Gilles Simon in the semi-finals. The Frenchman has a 10-5 record on the season, having also reached the Apia International Sydney semi-finals (l. to Anderson) and the quarter-finals last week at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet).

"I fought hard to come back in the first set," said Benneteau. "I was always under pressure, I had to save a lot of break points. It's difficult to keep that level of intensity all the time. He did that better than me.

"It was a good match. I was not too tight, I played my game. He was just too strong today. It's disappointing because it's a final, but I did what I could."

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