Del Potro hands Federer first loss of 2018 in Indian Wells thriller

Juan Martin del Potro handed world number one Roger Federer his first defeat of the season to claim the BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells on Sunday.

The eighth seed beat Federer 6-4, 5-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-2) in a thrilling match to win his first ATP Masters 1000 title and end the Swiss’ 17-match unbeaten run.

The win also ended Federer’s bid for a record sixth title in California.

The 29-year old Argentine has struggled with a wrist injury in recent years and underwent three operations, but has battled his way back into the top ten in recent weeks following a win in Acapulco earlier this month.

“I’m still shaking, I’m so nervous,” said Del Potro after the win. “I was thinking [about missing match points]. I played really well in the [third set] tiebreak … It’s like a dream after all my problems and surgeries. I’m excited to keep surprising the Tour.”

Del Potro was strong throughout, winning the first set after forcing the only break of serve.

The second set was a tight affair as both players saved break points. Then, in the tie-break Federer thought he had won it when serving at 6-5, only for Del Potro to successfully challenge a serve that had been called in.

The Argentine then held match point at 8-7, but some unforced errors allowed the Swiss to level it.

Federer drew first blood in the decider, breaking for 5-4 only for Del Potro to immediately break back after saving three match points.

Both players then held serve to set up a deciding tie-break, but loose serving from Federer and powerful hitting from the Argentine saw Del Potro clinch the match at the third attempt after a gruelling two hours and 42 minutes.

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