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Del Potro smothers Ferrer to reach first ever Wimbledon semi-final

FEATURED COLUMNIST
03 Jul 2013, 20:41 IST
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The Championships - Wimbledon 2013: Day Nine

Juan Martin del Potro

The last time these two met on the grass at SW19, David Ferrer battered Juan Martin Del Potro for the loss of just eight games. Despite losing nearly a foot in height, the Spaniard also had an unlikely 6-2 edge over the Argentine. But at Wimbledon on Wednesday, it was clear from the moment go that the tower of Tandil had made the adjustments necessary to thrive on the slippery grass on centre court, despite a nasty fall in the third round.

Almost on cue, Del Potro finished Ferrer at just about the same time that Novak Djokovic was putting the finishing touches on Tomas Berdych. The Argentine clinched an impressive  6-2, 6-4, 7-6(5) victory in two hours and 19 minutes to reach the semis at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.

Ferrer was in trouble straight off the gates – Del Potro served him a generous helping of power tennis to gain a couple of break points at 15-40. Worryingly for the Argentine, injured during his victory over Grega Zemlja, fell awkwardly on his knee again. The doctor was out on court, but a brief service later, Del Potro made his way back to the baseline to receive serve.

For what he lacks in size and power, Ferrer makes up for it with resilience. The Spaniard survived three deuces before somehow scrambling to hold serve in the first game. After Del Potro held with ease in the next game, another break point followed in the third game and this time the Argentine made Ferrer pay. Clearly the more comfortable player, Del Potro consolidated his grip on the set, when he snatched another break in the seventh game. The fighting Ferrer forced a couple of break points in the next game, but Del Potro saw them off to take the first set.

The second set was a far more even effort, with Ferrer finding the right spaces to plant himself by the baseline to play tango with the Argentine. While the Spaniard was managing to hold his own, the spark was clearly missing. The first break point of the second set waited till the ninth game, but when Ferrer mishit his backhand, it was a virtual set point for the Argentine.

Ferrer saved it with a thundering smash, but Del Potro pounded the court to earn another shot at the break of serve. This time, a frustrated Ferrer dumped a backhand in the net to surrender the vital break. The Del Potro forehand is a ferocious weapon and he battered Ferrer with it in the next game to take a two sets to one lead.

The typically stoic Ferrer was unable to find a way past Del Potro, but that did not prevent him from guarding his own fort like a wild beast. With Ferrer not gaining even a scent of a break and Del Potro content to wait for his opponent to blink, the set melted into a tie-breaker. It was Ferrer who blinked first to fall behind 1-4.

The Spaniard though fought back immediately to take the next two points and restore the breaker back on serve.  Another exchange of mini-breaks left the breaker in the balance at 5-5. A forehand pass that was destined to the highlights show from beyond the court gave Del Potro match point.

The Argentine finished the job with yet another brutal forehand winner to clinch his spot in the last four against Djokovic. “I was really close to pulling out because I felt a lot of pain at the beginning of the match,” told Del Potro to BBC. “The doctor gave me some magic pills and I was able to finish the match. I think I played my best tennis; I played my best forehand ever in this Wimbledon. It was a big performance for me.”

Neither man has lost a set yet, so it could be a thrilling match. But then, a lot depends on how Del Potro’s wobbly knee feels on Friday.

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