Del Potro Keeps Finding A Way
It has been more than four years since Juan Martin del Potro competed in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. But the sixth seed is looking more and more like the player to beat in the bottom half of the BNP Paribas Open draw.
The 2013 Indian Wells finalist extended his win streak to eight on Wednesday evening in the Coachella Valley, advancing past compatriot Leonardo Mayer 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 in two hours and 30 minutes.
Del Potro was down a break in the second set, but immediately broke back, and in the tie-break, he dominated. The Argentine finished with 28 winners to 23 unforced errors.
Credit Mayer for playing to win against Del Potro. The World No. 47 was successful on 66 per cent of his trips to the net (21/32). But Del Potro broke in the first game of the decider to keep a hold on the momentum and claimed his first match point.
“I don't know. But I did,” Del Potro said when asked how he came back in the fourth-round match. “I'm surprised with the Mayer levels of today. I mean, he deserved to play like that... I turned around the match and the control of the points, and then I started to play much better right after the tie-break.”
Mayer was going for his second Top 10 win (1-27) and trying to make his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. For Del Potro, it's his third consecutive Masters 1000 quarter-final, dating back to the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters and the 2017 Rolex Shanghai Masters. Del Potro, No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, last reached a Masters 1000 final at 2013 Shanghai.
He will next meet German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has exemplified this week just how much of a roller coaster the sport of tennis can be. Before the BNP Paribas Open, Kohlschreiber hadn't won back-to-back matches in 2018. But on Wednesday, he won his third match of the week, beating Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6(1) to make the quarter-finals at the Masters 1000 event.
It's Kohlschreiber's first Masters 1000 quarter-final since 2010 Toronto and only the fifth of his career (also 2007 Monte-Carlo, 2008 Cincinnati, 2010 Monte-Carlo). The 34-year-old right-hander is the first German to reach the Indian Wells quarter-finals since current tournament director Tommy Haas in 2008.
“I felt like the level of tennis I played in the past weeks got better and better, and then luckily here it all come together. I like the conditions. I like the weather. I think I played some good tennis here already in the past, so I knew it could be a good tournament for me,” Kohlschreiber said.
Herbert was seeking his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, and the Frenchman nearly pushed the fourth-round match to three sets. Kohlschreiber broke in the first game of both sets, but when it came time to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set, he faltered as Herbert broke for the first time when Kohlschreiber sailed a forehand wide. In the tie-break, however, the German regrouped, sprinting to the finish by winning seven of eight points.
Did You Know?
Del Potro has never won a Masters 1000 title. He has reached three finals at that level: 2009 Montreal, 2013 Indian Wells and 2013 Shanghai.