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Sunday November 11, 2012

Del Potro upsets Federer to seal semi-final spot in ATP Tour Finals

LONDON: Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro claimed a surprise 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over defending champion Roger Federer yesterday to book his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals.

Del Potro’s victory ended Federer’s 12-match winning run at the season-ending event and guaranteed he will qualify from Group B along with the Swiss star.

Federer, who has won the Tour Finals title for the last two years, already knew he was through after winning his first two group matches at London’s O2 Arena.

The semi-final match-ups will not be decided until after the final group match between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic.

Victory for Ferrer would mean it is Federer who plays Andy Murray with del Potro playing Novak Djokovic, while a Tipsarevic win would reverse the fixtures.

Federer had won 13 of his previous 16 meetings, but the Argentine has given him plenty of trouble at times.

As well as winning his only Grand Slam title with a win over Federer at the 2009 US Open, del Potro also handed the 31-year-old his only other indoor defeat in the last two years in the final of his hometown tournament in Basle last month.

That pattern continued as a tight first set saw sixth-seeded del Potro save three break points to keep Federer at bay.

Then in the tie-break, Federer suddenly lost his rhythm and del Potro took advantage to snatch the first set.

Federer made a strong response, reeling off eight successive points to break at the start of the second set, and that was enough to level the match. But del Potro’s big-hitting style blew Federer off course again in the deciding set.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion was unable to survive the barrage and del Potro broke for a 2-0 lead before holding his nerve to serve out a superb win in two hours.

Meanwhile, Murray swept into the semi-finals as he defeated France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) at London’s O2 Arena on Friday.

After Djokovic’s win over Tomas Berdych earlier on Friday, Murray knew he only needed to take one set off seventh seeded Tsonga to guarantee his third appearance in the last four of the season-ending event.

The 25-year-old took just 33 minutes to achieve his goal and he eventually sealed his second win of the tournament, advancing from Group A in second place behind Djokovic, despite a late flurry from Tsonga.

After a glorious year which has featured his first Grand Slam title at the US Open, a gold in Olympics and an appearance in the Wimbledon final, Murray would love to cap the campaign with a first Tour Finals crown. “It was quite a tough scenario and I was lucky to get off to a good start,” Murray said.

“There was some good tennis at the end of the second set. Jo started playing better. When he was imposing himself as he was in that second set, he is a hell of an athlete and very tough to play.”

Tsonga, beaten in his previous two matches, needed a straight sets victory to go through but failed. — AFP

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