Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick went the distance in the 2009 Washington final.
In 2008, Juan Martin del Potro, a teenager from Argentina, announced himself on the global stage behind a thundering game that took him to four tournament victories on the season.
While he started off 2009 strong with his fifth career title in Auckland, New Zealand, his momentum slowed somewhat as he didn’t reach a final for several months. His next championship appearance finally came at the summer hard-court tournament in Washington, D.C, where he was the defending champion. Seeded second, he battled through three-setters in his first two matches before being granted a walkover in the quarterfinals and winning his semifinal against Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets.
In the final, del Potro would face the top seed Andy Roddick, who was ranked one spot ahead of him at No. 5 in the world. The American, going for his 28th career singles title, was playing his first event since dropping an epic Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, one he lost 16-14 in the fifth set. On his way to the championship match in D.C., Roddick only dropped one set—in the semifinals against fellow American John Isner.
In their only other previous match, the 2008 final in Los Angeles, del Potro prevailed in straight sets to win the third event of his eventual four-tournament winning streak that stretched across clay and hard courts. The first set of this Washington final saw Roddick blasting his serve to great effect, and combined with del Potro’s struggles on his own delivery, the American was able to take the opener 6-3.
Del Potro shored up his service games in the second set to keep pace with his more experienced opponent. As Roddick tried to serve his way into a tiebreaker, the Argentine came up with a crucial break to take the second set 7-5 and send the match into a decider.
It appeared that Roddick had regained the advantage with an early break in the third set. Del Potro, though, stormed back, winning 11 points in a row. The third set went to a tiebreaker and Roddick fought off three championship points. He couldn’t fight off the fourth—a forehand that clipped the line—and Del Potro was crowned the winner of the event for the second year in a row.
This was Roddick’s first loss in a Washington final, having won the title on three other occasions.
In the six singles finals where he came out as the winner, del Potro defeated an American in three of them: Roddick in the 2008 Los Angeles and ’09 Washington final, and Sam Querrey in Auckland in 2009.
Del Potro became the first man to defend his title in Washington in a decade, after Andre Agassi accomplished the feat in 1998-’99.
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