McDonald Upsets Del Potro In Delray Beach
Mackenzie McDonald recorded one of the biggest moments of his career on Friday at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, holding off a determined Juan Martin del Potro in their quarter-final clash to defeat the top seed 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).
The win gave the American his first ATP Tour semi-final berth and first victory over a Top 10 player. Currently No. 84 in the ATP Rankings, McDonald is guaranteed to surpass his career-high of No. 76 when the newest standings are released on Monday.
“I’ve played a couple of these Top 10 guys before and it’s always tough. There were some nerves at the end, but I’m handling it better each time,” said McDonald. “I’m glad to finally get a win over one of them.”
The match began with comfortable service holds from both men, but Del Potro’s movement appeared hampered by the middle of the first set. With the top seed walking gingerly between points and letting mid-pace balls pass him by for winners, the American won 10 consecutive points to take the early advantage.
With the crowd chanting “Delpo”, the Argentine battled valiantly in the second set. He increased the pace on his serve and gambled on his forehand in a bid to shorten the points. McDonald blinked first in the second set and floated a drop shot into the net down break point at 2-3. The slight advantage was all the top seed needed to bring the match to a decider.
Neither player dropped serve in the final set to force a tie-break. McDonald grabbed a mini-break advantage to lead 5/2 after a pair of forehand errors from del Potro. The American missed his first two match-point opportunities, but struck a forehand volley winner at 6/5 and threw his racquet to the ground in celebration.
Despite the loss, del Potro said he would try to take the positives from this week.
"I wanted to do a big effort tonight. I fought until the last ball and had many opportunities, but it's hard to win matches when you can't move at 100 per cent," said del Potro. "I played three matches [this week] after four months away, though, so I think that was the best thing for me."
Delray Beach is guaranteed to have a first-time ATP Tour finalist when McDonald next faces Radu Albot, who continued his top form with a comeback 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) upset over fourth seed Steve Johnson of the United States. The 29-year-old fought back from 4/5 in the third-set tie-break and jubilantly celebrated as he advanced in two hours and seven minutes.
“I was losing the whole time and was definitely not in control of the match, but was able to serve better, return better and get the win,” said Albot. “This week is the best achievement I’ve had on the ATP Tour, so hopefully I can go one step further and make the final.”
Two of Albot's three ATP Tour semi-finals have come this month. The Moldovan also reached the last four two weeks ago at the Open Sud de France.