us open 2009

Federer’s Conquest of Del Potro Complete in Rotterdam Final

The hot ticket in Rotterdam today featured a showdown at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament between two grand slam champions, Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. While the Argentinean forced a good battle in the second set, his slow start in the first set to go down 0-5, cost him the match.

After only one hour and 26 minutes, and after saving all seven break points he faced, Federer prevailed, 6-1, 6-4.

“He couldn’t pull the trigger the way he wanted to,” stated Federer. “Just like yesterday, I had a good mindset. I really believed I was going to make it difficult for him, especially on the break points. I know the second set could have been a whole lot different.”

Federer even alluded to the slight shift in momentum between the first and second set. “In the first set, I was rock solid. I played great from start to finish. In the second set, it got tighter. I’m happy I was able to sneak it out.”

Although this is a great win for Federer in terms of his long-standing tradition to win titles and for his confidence, there is one aspect of his game that faltered severely, his serve. Federer’s serve has never been the strongest or the fastest on the men’s tour, but it’s been consistent for the most part. Today, however, Federer served only 49% for the match. 49%! From a champion holding 16 grand slams and 71 titles, how is this even possible? Perhaps it was the pressure of winning his first title of the season, or the anticipation of re-inventing himself as a top threat. But, what if Del Potro was in Federer’s head ever before the two stepped a foot on court?

Sure, the scoreline of this match might not let us believe it, but Del Potro shot down Federer’s dream of winning six US Open titles in a row back in 2009, when the Argentine came from behind to beat the Swiss. Why couldn’t Del Potro mess with Federer’s head and do it again on a smaller stage today? During the US Open final, Federer was dumbstruck as Del Potro powered forehands out of reach, but today, he expected (and was prepared for) a battle.

Could that really be all that there is between a winner and a true champion, fear and expectation that the other player may actually beat you? Sound off in the comments.

Also, watch Federer talk about what his 71st career title, and second in Rotterdam, means to him below, and check out photos from today’s final that photographer Rick Gleijm captured.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFbhnKbWq5c

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