Del Potro saves match points to stun Federer for Indian Wells title

"I played unbelievable tennis, nearly three hours, and beating Roger for the first time this year, that means a lot to me", said Del Potro, before dedicating his first ATP Masters 1000 title to his beloved dog Cesar, who recently passed away.

Federer broke for a chance to serve for the match at 4-4 in the third set, but del Potro wouldn't go away, saving three match points during Federer's 5-4 service game.

World No. 8 del Potro is back in the top 10 rankings this season for the first time since 2014. Let's not forget that he's one of the very few to have attained a Grand Slam title during the reign of Federer-Nadal-Djokovic-Murray, the 2009 U.S. Open win over, you guessed it, Federer.

The conversion of two break points to Federer's one (both saved three apiece) was crucial to Del Potro's success, and it highlighted a key facet to his game that few other players on the Tour possess - bottle.

Speaking about the crowd during the match, del Potro yelled at umpire Fergus Murphy: "The people are screaming when I miss a first serve".

Del Potro managed to force a tie-break but he was no match for Federer, who outlasted his powerful opponent to finally force a decider. "It was maybe a point here or there, maybe a shot, maybe a forehand, maybe a chip".

He has regained form over the last two seasons but, although he entered the final on a 10-match winning streak after clinching victory in Acapulco for his 21st singles crown last month, he was still the underdog against Federer. I have everything what I want, and I want to keep improving my game to see what can I do. "It's like a dream", he said.

But it still looked like it was Federer, who brought an unbeaten to the year start into the match, who was tightening his grip on the match.

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" I got depressed at home for a long while, and I wasn't happy doing the effort to recover my wrist".

"It was disappointing", Federer said.

"It was worth everything I've been through to experience this moment", del Potro said.

An annoyed Federer barked at the umpire during a changeover and, fired up by his grievance, took the second set to even up the contest before pushing del Potro to the limits in the final stanza. "It was Juan Martin and myself", he said.

"I'm really enjoying playing tennis again", he said.

Osaka, 20, won the first title of her career at the expense of her friend, fellow 20-year-old Daria "Dasha" Kasatkina, 6-3, 6-2.

Federer cruised into Sunday's final having dropped just one set in five matches, but he found himself defending a losing position on Court 1 as Del Potro won the first set in comfortable fashion. Del Potro described the close, tense match as an "arm wrestle". There was not much between us, but you deserved it.

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