A very exciting Round 3 match at Miami Open, that everyone is looking forward to is the one between Roger Federer, who has won 2 major tournaments so far, and Juan Martin Del Potro, struggling to regain his form. Having had a barely average season in 2016, both are trying to recreate the time of their prime, with Federer having more success than Del Potro.
Being hampered down multiple times with serious injuries, Del Potro never really got the recognition that he much deserves. A player of the potential matching that of The Big 4, a career full of injuries got in the way of him becoming one of the best players, statistically. Federer, on the other hand, did not suffer much in his career, health wise. But in 2016, he had to undergo a knee surgery and hence, had to skip half of the season.
Roger Federer started the season with a bang, winning his 5th Australian Open title and increased his slam count to 18 by defeating his archenemy Rafael Nadal in the final in 5 sets, before winning his 25th Masters title at Indian Wells. Whereas, Del Potro has had a very normal season with the only highlight being the semifinal at the Delray Beach.
The only major similarity in their playing style is that both of them have a very powerful forehand which attributes to one of their major strengths while attacking their opponents. Federer has made some changes to his single handed backhand and converted it to a strong point in his game, which was earlier the attacking point of many of his opponents. He has a very lucid and smooth serve, one which would often leave a spectator at awe by how gracefully he uses it as a weapon against his rivals. His arsenal also consists of the drop shot, which he often uses in disguise just as well off both wings.
Del Potro is more beasty and openly aggressive on court and never fails to display it. He has a very powerful and attacking serve, and is also known by as one of the big servers of the current generation of tennis. He had a very consistent and powerful double handed backhand but due to a wrist surgery in 2015, that weapon has been snatched off of him and he has resorted to a more defensive slice backhand. He is compensating the loss by improving the speed and accuracy of positioning of his other shots, but most importantly his serve, one of his most lethal weapons. His forehand is a heavy topspin groundstroke which he hits flat and deep, considered one of the best.
They have met 20 times so far, with Roger Federer leading 15-5, but their rivalry is closer than what the stats suggest. The most high profile match of the duo has been the final of the US Open 2009 where Del Potro emerged as the winner in 5 sets. Another intense match of their rivalry is the 2012 London Olympics semi-final where the match went to the deciding set, like most of their matches, which Federer won by 19-17. Of the last 4 meetings, both have won 2 each. Del Potro won on more crucial occasions, the finals of Swiss Indoors in 2012 and 2013, whereas Federer won in the Round Robin of ATP World Tour Finals and the quarter finals of the Paris Masters. Federer leads Del Potro by 5-1 in the Slam matches whereas Del Potro is ahead in the finals by 3-1.
Their 3rd round match at the Miami Open will be their first ever meeting at the event and it is much anticipated like a majority of the matches of the duo. While all of their matches have been much more close than what the scores suggest, 10 of them have been immensely close and resulted in a decider, which often ended up in a tie-breaker.
Del Potro had a comfortable win over Robin Haase in the second round but Federer had to struggle a bit with the young-gun, Frances Tiafoe, who stretched the first set to a tie-breaker. Despite the difference in the nature of their previous match, neither of them is entering the match as the absolute favorite because the potentials of both are well known to all. It could either be a close 3 setter or a one sided 2 setter, in the anybody’s favor. Roger Federer having won a Masters 1000 title just days ago and being in a good form, has a slight edge over his rival. But Del Potro could possibly enter his infamous beast mode or continue his just at par performance and barely fight back like he often has.
A close match is expected from both of them on their first encounter at the venue as they are easily capable of delivering it, like they have been doing over the years. No matter who emerges out as the winner, the match is sure to be an exciting one with two best players of their times competing against one another.