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Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Federer v Del Potro as it happened



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By Chris Bevan

2332: And that's all from me for tonight too. All in all, it's been quite a day - but the end result is that Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro have qualified out of Group A and are into the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals. Join me tomorrow to find out if Novak Djokovic or Nikolay Davydenko will join Robin Soderling in progressing from Group B. I'm off for a lie-down - I'm having horrible flashbacks of my GCSE maths exam for some reason...

2326: That was exciting wasn't it? Or was it just confusing... or possibly both? I must say I prefer watching a tennis match when there is just a winner and a loser - much simpler. You never know, that might happen tomorrow night when Robin Soderling plays Nikolay Davydenko and Rafael Nadal plays Novak Djokovic. Soderling is already in the last four, Nadal is already out. Shall I bring my calculator, or can I rely on you lot again?

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "Official ATP voice tells us it's Federer & Del Potro. I've sent some words in, now off for a little cry. Can't wait for tomorrow night."

Jamie Cutteridge on Twitter: "I think I just told Mr Murray that he's out on twitter. *gulp*."

2317: At last, confirmation from the ATP of what we had all worked out about 15 minutes ago. Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer are through. Andy Murray is out. It's been a strange old day, hasn't it?

Andy Murray on Twitter: "Anyone know what's going on?? I think I'm audi but the rules aren't worded too well."

2315: At least the crowd will be entertained - Del Potro is knocking up with Tevez while we wait for the ATP to get their act together. The Manchester City striker is better with his feet than he is with a racquet in his hands by the looks of things.

2312: I think Del Potro has just been told that he is through to the last four - he has just gone over to embrace Carlos Tevez anyway, and looks a bit happier than he just did (maybe that's what happens when you hug Tevez?). Nobody has told the crowd at the O2 Arena yet, though. How long do they have to wait? How long do we have to wait!?

2308: Over the course of his three round-robin matches, Juan Martin del Potro won 45 games and lost 43 games. Andy Murray won 44 and lost 43. Sadly for Del Potro, nobody seems to have told him that he is through... he is sat in his courtside chair, shrugging his shoulders. This is a bit of a farce to be honest.

Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 Del Potro
Del Potro looks exhausted but he still has enough left in the tank to edge home, booming down two thumping serves at 30-all to clinch the win he needed, by the skin of his teeth. Del Potro and Federer are through - Murray is out, by the narrowest of margins - just one game. The crowd don't seem sure of what's just happened but hopefully somebody will tell them before they leave the O2 Arena.


Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 3-5 *Del Potro
Uh-oh. Suddenly Federer, and with him Andy Murray, is in big trouble at 0-30... followed by a double fault that leaves him 0-40 down. Del Potro hits long on the next point but Fed's next forehand is wide and Del Potro is one game away from a victory that would send him and Federer through, and cruelly knock out Murray.

*Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 3-4 Del Potro
Del Potro is up against it now, and cannot afford to lose another game if he is to go through to the semi-finals. He comes mighty close here, saving three break-points before finally holding after successfully challenging a line call after sending a forehand fizzing down the line. I'm not sure he, or the crowd at the O2 Arena, knows what is going on but one thing is certain - this is a cracking match.

Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 3-3 *Del Potro
So I guess it's good news for Murray that Federer's serve is still in good shape. He holds easily enough - but I wonder if the players know what the state of play is with the scores?

*Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 2-3 Del Potro
OK. I'm told that, if Federer gets to four games in this set, he and Murray are through - regardless of whether Del Potro goes on to win the match. Del Potro holds - sorry for the lack of description but I'm spending more time on my calculator than I am with my keyboard.

Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 2-2 *Del Potro
At least things are straightforward on court. Fed holds again and we are still on serve.

*Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 2-1 Del Potro
It seems the only way Del Potro can win and take Murray through with him is if he wins this set on a tie-break. Anyway, nobody seems to know for sure so we may as well concentrate on the tennis and worry about that later. Del Potro holds out with ease too.

BBC Sport's 5livetennis Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "Funny scenes after Fed levelled. About 30 journalists suddenly descended on the ATP office to find out what that means."

Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 1-1 *Del Potro
Fed is still serving well anyway, while we try to work this one out. He holds after punching away a cross-court volley.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "Nerves, tension, gripped by fear? You must be in the O2 arena media centre praying that Delpo doesn't win this in three."

*Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 0-1 Del Potro
Right, I'm trying to work out how Del Potro can win this third set and take Murray through with him - basically, the Brit's hopes seem to rely on Federer winning but more on that to follow. Back on court, Del Potro gets the deciding set under way with a confident hold.


Federer 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 0-0 *Del Potro
Some fierce groundstrokes by Federer sees him claw back to 4-4 but a mistake by the Swiss gives Del Potro two serves for the match... But that would be too simple, wouldn't it. Fed comes storming back, to level the match with a stinging volley and leave Andy Murray's hopes in the balance .

Federer 2-6 6-6 (2-4) Del Potro
Fed is in at the net at 1-2 but his half-volley is poor and Del Potro is in at the net to put away his short return. That's the mini-break to the Argentine and he is still serving well to lead 4-2 at the changeover.

Federer 2-6 6-6 Del Potro
Yep, Del Potro is still completely dominant with his deliveries... and an eighth ace takes him to 40-0 before a cheeky cross-court backhand from a ridiculous angle wraps up the game. It's tie-break time and Fed's hopes are on a knife-edge.
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Federer 2-6 6-5 *Del Potro
The only positive for Fed at the moment is his serve - he holds to love again here. Getting anything out of Del Potro might be slightly more difficult.
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*Federer 2-6 5-5 Del Potro
Fed is only a game away from winning this second set (and forcing us to get our calculators out) but he never looks like getting that elusive break here. He looks flat and his shots reflect that - with a backhand drooping into the net before he flings a forehand out wide. We're still all-square in this second set.
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Federer 2-6 5-4 *Del Potro
Hmmm. Servers definitely on top at the moment, as only a sloppy forehand by Fed stops him from racking up a third-straight love service game in this match. He berates himself before holding with a big serve on the next point. Murray fans - the way things stand, you definitely want Del Potro to win this second set and wrap this one up... that would send him and Del Potro through.
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*Federer 2-6 4-4 Del Potro
In answer to the question I posed below, three aces by Del Potro make that a very emphatic 'no'.
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Text in your views on 81111
From Paul in Teeside, via text on 81111: "Fed Express class almost always comes through."

Federer 2-6 4-3 *Del Potro
Another blink-and-you-miss-it service game by Fed, who again wraps it up with an ace out wide to hold to love. Now, can he do any damage on the Del Potro delivery? He needs to find a way of doing so, and quickly.
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*Federer 2-6 3-3 Del Potro
Here's that window of opportunity I spoke about for Fed, as he forces the first deuce on DelPo's serve since the second game of the match. Still, it does him no good - the Argentine produces two more unreturnable serves and holds out again. Time running out for Fed to find that spark of inspiration.
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Text in your views on 81111
From Matt in Southampton, via text on 81111: "I was at the O2 on Sunday and thought Federer was sluggish. I've felt he didn't really deserve to win either of his previous matches. Let's have Del Potro, Murray, Soderling and Davydenko in the semis. A new champion for a new venue."

Federer 2-6 3-2 *Del Potro
The Fed serve is keeping him alive at the moment, just. The world number one looks a tad lethargic to me, which is a big reason why Del Potro is so much on top - he's up for this and scrapping for his life. We're still with serve in this second set.
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*Federer 2-6 2-2 Del Potro
Two things stand out about Del Potro so far - his thumping forehand and his massive serve. Both are in evidence here, with an ace getting him out of a spot of bother at 30-all. Fed still looking for his window of opportunity... at the moment he's banging his head against a brick wall.
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Get involved on 606
From hypermgp on 606: "Hang in there ROGER! Del Potro can't keep this up and, if he does, then hats off to him, not much you can do really."

Federer 2-6 2-1 *Del Potro
In the time it takes for my computer to crash, Fed wraps up an easy hold to love after firing an ace out wide. That's more like it from the world number one but he has got to sustain that sort of tennis, otherwise his year will be over - and very soon.
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*Federer 2-6 1-1 Del Potro
After just about surviving the last game, Fed shows some signs of life (at last) on the Del Potro serve to claw his way to 30-all. He gets no nearer to his first break, though, with the Argentine outplaying him in both of the next two points.
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Federer 2-6 1-0 *Del Potro
Important for Fed that he makes a solid start to this second set - just to remind you that if he loses in straight sets, he is OUT. He is still making hard work of this, however, mainly thanks to Del Potro's huge forehand - which is just unplayable at the moment - and faces a break-point at 30-40 which he survives thanks to an enormous stroke of fortune when what should have been a routine volley hits the top of the net and limps over. Fed goes on to hold, but he is an extremely lucky man.
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Text in your views on 81111
From Kim, not nervous at all in Hertfordshire, via text on 81111: "Federer has it under control. He is just trying to become the first player to win the title after losing the first set in each match."


*Federer 2-6 0-0 Del Potro
Del Potro's first wobble, at 30-15, sees him slam a forehand a mile wide and long. A chink of light for Fed? Not really. Two huge serves give him the first set - Fed has now lost the first set in all three of his matches in Group A... but remember he came back to win the previous two.
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Federer 2-5 *Del Potro
Better by Fed, who holds for only the second time in this match, sealing the game with a superb backhand winner. This first set looks to be beyond him though... he has an awful lot of work to do to stop Del Potro now.
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BBC Sport's Piers Newbery Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "It's possible I don't know what on earth I'm talking about, but an easy opening set for Delpo would seem to be the worst start for Murray."

*Federer 1-5 Del Potro
An exquisite lob by Del Potro shows how well he is playing at the moment, and a terrible overhead backhand by Federer demonstrates how poorly he is performing. Still, Fed digs in to take the next two points and claw his way back to 40-30 before an ace by Del Potro sees him hold and move closer to this first set - this is doing wonders for his 'games won' percentage too.
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*Federer 1-5 Del Potro
An exquisite lob by Del Potro shows how well he is playing at the moment, and a terrible overhead backhand by Federer demonstrates how poorly he is performing. Still, Fed digs in to take the next two points and claw his way back to 40-30 before an ace by Del Potro sees him hold and move closer to this first set - this is doing wonders for his 'games won' percentage too.
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Get involved on 606
From blueboyrob on 606: "Sort it out Fed, I really want Fed and Murray through. Who goes through if Fed wins in three sets?"

I know this one - it's Murray and Federer.

Federer 1-4 *Del Potro
Fed is still struggling on serve, however, and Del Potro gets his reward for continuing to attack - a blistering backhand gives him another break point at 30-40 before another Fed double fault gives the Argentine a double break. Extraordinary stuff.
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*Federer 1-3 Del Potro
Fed seems to have found his feet now, and some beautifully crafted backhand slices cause Del Potro a whole heap of trouble and give Fed a sniff of a break-back at 30-all. That's as good as it gets for the world number one, though, with a big serve giving JMDP the next point before he forces a forehand error that gives him the hold.
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Text in your views on 81111
From Grainne and Siobhan at the O2 via text on 81111: "Chris, please send a shout out to Grainne and Siobhan, two long time tennis fans from Ireland here at the O2 tonight. She used to shout for Edberg, I used to shout for Lendl. Tonight we're in full voice for Federer! Loving the venue so far!"

Camilla Chapman on Twitter: "RFed to win in straight sets, but it won't be easy, reckon DelPo will be incredibly fired up for this one."

Federer 1-2 *Del Potro
That's more like it. Fed holds to love in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes. He's still a break down, mind.
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*Federer 0-2 Del Potro
Manchester City's Argentina striker Carlos Tevez is among the spectators at the O2 Arena tonight - he and Del Potro are good friends and I hear Del Potro is not a bad footballer either... anyway, back to the tennis and Federer is still trying to work out JMDP serve... it's big and fast, basically. We are seeing some fabulous rallies in the early stages, and some great shots from both players - Del Potro is still on top at the moment, although the first two games have taken 15 minutes.
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Federer 0-1 *Del Potro
Not the greatest start by Fed, with Del Potro gifted an early break at 30-all when his limp backhand clips the net and dies at Federer's feet. A mis-hit by the Argentine brings us to deuce but his blistering forehand soon sets up another break point only for him to waste it with a wild shot from the same flank. Chance gone? No. Fed runs round a forehand but puts it in the tramlinees and, on the next point, goes long with a backhand. Del Potro has an early break, and I'm just getting my breath back.
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2057: Right then, we're off. Federer to serve first

2050: Fed and Del Potro are busy knocking up - so time to remind you lot how to get in touch tonight. Tweet me gently on Twitter, text me on 81111 or have your say on 606. No more maths questions though, for a little while at least (my head still hurts from earlier).

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "So everyone clear? Federer & Del Potro are about to play a tennis match, the winner gets to play another one. I think. Lively crowd tonight."

2047: Del Potro is first on court, giving the crowd a wave as he makes his way to his chair. He's quickly followed by Federer too, following a quick pre-match interview in which the world number one says (with a smile) that he wants "revenge" for his defeat by Del Potro in the US Open final in September. Can't be too often that Fed needs to get revenge, can it?

Get involved on 606
From ArmchairPro on 606: "Re 2038. Wash your mouth out please Chris. We don't need an epic contest we need a thrashing (either way works fine)!"

BBC Sport's 5livetennis Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "ATP officials changed their minds about qualification scenarios three times in an hour! Shocking that organisers don't know what's going on...they've finally settled on the scenario they originally announced."

2038: Anyway, enough about the maths (for now, and hopefully for the rest of the night!). Let's look forward to what is a mouth-watering showdown between Federer, the world number one, and Del Potro, who is ranked fifth. The Argentine has only won one of their seven encounters but what a win that was - a five-set epic in the final of this year's US Open that gave the 21-year-old his first Grand Slam title. More of the same tonight please... oh, and the players are due on court at around 2045 GMT.

2036: Andy Murray on playing Fernando Verdasco knowing that a three-set win might not be enough to put him into the semi-finals: "It was tough, but I needed to win the match. I knew if I won the match then there was only one way I couldn't go through, and that was Del Potro winning in three sets and then I think it would go down to the games won. I just had to focus on winning and then there's a very slim chance of me going out."

Text in your views on 81111
From Simon in Edinburgh via text on 81111: "So only a three set win for Del Potro can send Muzza out? Surely sod's law means that is inevitable and much calculator bashing will ensue."

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery Tweeting from the O2 Arena: "Murray on the qualification system - 'I don't know why everyone makes it sound so complicated. The people that go through deserve to'."

2028: Don't understand who will go through should Del Potro beat Federer in three sets? Let me explain (or, more accurately, let me allow my colleague Matt Braithwaite explain). Here's the current win-loss standings between the three men in contention, and their win percentage: Federer W32 L22 (59.259%) Murray W44 L43 (50.575%) Del Potro W27 L31 (46.550%)

What does that mean? A three sets win by Del Potro, with a winning margin by fewer than five games means Fed and Murray are through. A three sets win by JMDP with a margin of five to nine games puts Del Potro and Fed through (UNLESS two sets go to tie-breaks, in which case JMDP has to win the other set 6-0 for that to apply). And, if Del Potro wins in three sets by a margin of 10 games or more, then he and Murray go through.

2026: Here's the lowdown then (deep breath): Any win for Federer means he and Murray are through. A straight sets win for Del Potro means he and Murray are through. A three-set win for Del Potro means we go down to percentage of games won. (More on that in a minute).

Get involved on 606
From Caludrup on 606: "It must be very strange for a tennis player to rely on other results. Probably every other match of their careers is a cut and dry, win or lose scenario. This is tension like no other tournament in tennis can create - three of the top five battling each other and mathematics, I can't wait!"

2024: In case you missed all the excitement earlier, Andy Murray's three-set win over Fernando Verdasco means the British number one will have to wait until the end of tonight's match to find out whether he has reached the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals. It's fair to say there was a bit of confusion over what result will send Murray through from Group A but, luckily, that appears to have been cleared up. My head still hurts though.

2020 GMT: Evening all. After the way things have gone so far today, don't be surprised if Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro come out on court at the O2 Arena wielding calculators rather than tennis racquets - like you and I, they could well end up needing them...

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see also
Del Potro win eliminates Murray
26 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray suffers Tour Finals exit
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray v Verdasco as it happened
26 Nov 09 |  Tennis
ATP Finals photos
27 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Davydenko wins to knock out Nadal
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
In-form Soderling beats Djokovic
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer enjoys return to top spot
25 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Federer prevails against Murray
24 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Nervy Del Potro defeats Verdasco
24 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray beats Del Potro in opener
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Murray revels in London spotlight
22 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis

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