The death quarter of the Men’s Singles draw at the BNP Paribas Open saw the blockbuster match-up between Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic, with the Serbian and the higher-ranked player triumphing in three sets after a tough battle in Stadium 1.
Djokovic steals the first set
Del Potro came into the match firing as he broke serve in the opening game of the match as he made some good and strong returns to have the advantage, taking the early lead in the first set. Djokovic seemed to be overwhelmed by Del Potro’s magnificent forehand as the Argentinian consolidated the break with a comfortable service hold in his opening service game of the match.
The Serbian finally got onto the scoreboard as he escaped from the brink with some strong serves as Del Potro managed to get to deuce twice, but was unable to earn any break points to allow Djokovic to have a tight service hold. Another easy hold of service for Del Potro followed as he held his serve to 15 for the second consecutive time, extending his lead to 3-1 and looked to be in control of the rallies with his booming offensive style of play.
Djokovic had to undergo yet another tough service hold as Del Potro got to deuce once more, and still failed to earn a break point but he was still able to give Djokovic a tough challenge. Del Potro hit errors after errors in the sixth game of the set while serving, causing himself to be broken to love and lost his advantage all of a sudden despite Djokovic being helpless on the return games before.
With both players being exceptionally solid in their service games, a break of serve seemed to be sacred as there was three consecutive love holds in the set, extending the first set to an 11th game as neither of the players was able to find the next breakthrough in their return games.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Del Potro made it seem like a tiebreak was incoming as he went up 30-0 in that game. However, Djokovic stormed back with his reliant and consistent backhands that were able to help him dictate play, eventually closing out the set 7-5 after just 52 minutes.
Del Potro fights back
Similar to the first set, Djokovic made a poor start to the second set as he was broken in the opening game after hitting a failed drop shot attempt on break point to go down the early deficit. Del Potro was then able to consolidate the break after fending off the tough resistance from the world number two, who managed to get to deuce but eventually still fell to the strong serves of the Argentinian.
After holding his serve comfortably, Djokovic had the golden opportunity to return on serve in the set as he held three break point opportunities on Del Potro’s serve. Some relentless offensive play from Del Potro allowed him to save all these break points and hold serve in the nervy game, holding onto his advantage as he led 3-1 in the second set, looking to level the match by winning the second set.
The second set seemed to be in Del Potro’s hands after he earned the double break lead, benefitting from a failed smash attempt from Djokovic on break point to extend her lead and continue to cruise through the set. The Serbian made an immediate fightback, though, as he broke straight back to love to get one of the breaks back and lessen the deficit, letting his backhand dictate play once more. As there were no more breaks of serve that followed in the set, Del Potro used his advantage to eventually close out the second set 6-4 after 51 minutes to level the match at one set all.
Djokovic strolls to victory
The final set finally saw Djokovic start the set with a comfortable service hold to love after seeing him getting broken in his opening service games of the first two sets. The world number two then seemed to be having the momentum running in him after he earned three break points in the next game, having a chance to take the early lead.
Strong first serves paved the way for Del Potro to come back from the brink and barely hold onto his service game to remain on serve. Djokovic finally earned what he deserved as he put up an excellent display of his best tennis, breaking serve in the fourth game as he took the lead in the final set and looked on course for his second successive three-set win over the Rio Olympics Silver medalist.
Del Potro’s woes continued when Djokovic consolidated the break with a quick service hold to love and then affirming his lead with yet another service break, despite the Argentinian’s best efforts to save the break points. This gave Djokovic a formidable 5-1 lead and placed himself just one game away from the victory, and the perfect chance to serve out the match in the next game. The Serbian did just so, successfully serving out the match after 2 hours and 19 minutes where he looked absolutely on fire in the final set, showing glimpses of his grand slam runs once again.