Del Potro blows Nadal away to book final spot
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:42
It was an early start for the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd intent on making the most of their new second Sunday line-up at this year’s US Open, but those in their seats by midday were treated to a lesson in ruthless efficiency from Juan Martin del Potro.
The Argentine dismantled a visibly hampered but typically spirited Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 6-2 to seal the first grand slam final appearance of his career in just over two and a half hours.
The world No.6 has gone from strength to strength this year since appointing Franco Davin as his coach in March, and made up for the agony of his five-set semi-final defeat to Roger Federer at Roland Garros by going one better in Flushing Meadows.
Del Potro was focused from the start, and played some breathtaking points demonstrating how far his game has progressed. He now has a much more delicate touch than the clay-courter that burst onto the scene last season. For a tall player he moves well, and although he stumbled on the baseline in his second service game, for most of the match his footwork took him around the court with lightning speed.
Nadal played valiantly, but the abdominal strain that has dogged him all week proved too big a handicap. His first serve lacked its normal ferocity, and, unable to serve out wide, there was not enough variety to trouble his 20-year-old opponent. In contrast, del Potro was not broken once.
Speaking afterwards Nadal said Del Porto had played much better than him today. But he also acknowledged that this year a lot of bad things have happened, and to come back and play at the top level was just too much for him. I had the first problem of the abdominal in Montreal.
An MRI scan had revealed the muscle strain in Montreal, which he aggravated once more in New York – which makes his run to the semi-final for a second successive year all the more remarkable.
“Today I played unbelievable, and that was the key” – del Potro
“I played a great match,” del Potro said after the match. “I was so focussed with my serve, with every break point, playing serve, trying to put the ball into the court and trying to be aggressive. I saw Rafa on the baseline, but too far away on the baseline. That’s important for me to come to the net and to do a short point.
“I served very well in important moments. I was confident with my forehand, and that’s two parts of my game that are very important to be in good shape. Today I played unbelievable, and that was the key.”
Ten days away from his 21st birthday, should he win the final the Argentine will become the second South American champion at the US Open, sharing the honours with Guillermo Vilas who won in 1977, when the year’s fourth major was played on clay.