Del Potro Defends Title In D.C.
August 9, 2009 -- Juan Martin Del Potro successfully defended his singles' title today when he defeated fan-favorite Andy Roddick in the final of The Legg Mason Tennis Classic. The Argentine became the first man since Andre Agassi in 1998-99 to win back-to-back titles at the now 500 ATP Tour event.
As temperatures on court piqued at 129 degrees F, both Del Potro and Roddick kept up their fights for the crown. Del Potro seemed more affected by the conditions, though.
"They were tough for me," Del Potro said. "We didn't have long points. If it were different I would have tried to run Andy more. He doesn't like to run. But for me to run today would have been death. After the first set I couldn't run."
"It hasn't been too bad until today," Roddick said. "I've played at night, too. Today was brutal, though. I think he felt it more. At the end he went for broke on his shots."
Roddick was seeded #1 and Del Potro #2, for the tournament. On the ATP South African Airways ranking system, Roddick currently holds the #5 spot and Del Potro #6. However with the 500 points Del Potro won today, he will remain at #6 come Monday when the rankings come out.
With the stands filled to capacity and fans fans' a fluttering, it looked like a giant butterfly farm on Stadium Court. Few left their seats as the three set match extended two hours and thirty minutes, with the final score 36 75 76(6).
In the first set, Roddick took the lead in the sixth game. It was enough to win the set. In the second, Del Potro's forceful forehand clicked. He held three break points on Roddick's serve in the eighth game. He saved one when Del Potro sent a forehand long, but that was it. Del Potro had the lead and served for the match at 5/4.
But, the Argentine double faulted. The match wasn't over. As Roddick served at 5/6 for a tiebreak, Del Potro hit a forehand winner taking the set.
In the last set, Roddick went up a break in the third game when Del Potro sent an overhead smash into the stands, before it hit inside the court. Roddick held then until the sixth game when Del Potro broke him at love, evening the set at 3/3.
"I lost that game at love and got in three first serves," Roddick said. He lost the next seven points -- eleven total.
Fittingly the match was decided in a tiebreak.
At six-all, as players changed sides, fans were on their feet. They clapped and chanted in rhythm "Andy... Andy... "
Del Potro then connected with his fifth ace of the tiebreak; he needed one more point. He hit a lightening fast cross-court forehand. No call came from the linesman. But Del Potro thought his ball was out. Andy challenged the call and walked to the net. He confirmed Del Potro's thought -- the ball was out. But Hawkeye revealed that the shot was good. Del Potro had won the title.
He said it was his best serving ever in a tiebreak. Of his 19 aces for the match, five were in the tiebreak.
"I'm very happy to win another title and defend this championship," Del Potro said. "I should come next year for three."
Andy Roddick was disappointed about his loss, but remained upbeat. He said this tournament was the start of his preparation for the U. S. Open.
"I'm going take away a lot more good than bad, from this week," Roddick said. "I feel better about my game now than when I got here."
On tap for both players is The Montreal Masters 1000 Tour stop, which starts tomorrow. Roddick will see Roger Federer for the first time since their Wimbledon final.
"I texted Roger when he had his twins," Andy said. "I told him congratulations and that I'd see him Montreal."
Today's final was Roddick's and Del Potro's second final in two years. Del Potro defeated Roddick at the L. A. Tennis Open last year, for his first ATP World Tour hard-court title. He went on to win the next three tour titles, including the 2008 Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
If you looked at Roddick's statistics from today's match, they belie the outcome. Roddick served 21 aces (his highest for any match this week) to Del Potro's 19. Roddick was 68% on first serves in; whereas, Del Potro was 55%. Roddick won all of his break chances -- 3 for 3, too.
As Roddick left the media tent, Donald Dell, the man who started The Legg Mason Tennis Classic, stopped Andy and shook his hand, saying, "Thanks for coming, Andy. It was a heck of a tournament."
Attendance for the week was 76,881, which was categorized as one of the most successful in the tournament's history.