Eight years ago, Del Potro beat the five-time champion in five thrilling sets to claim his first major and he needed one less to overpower a below-par Federer with a 7-5 3-6 7-6 6-4 victory, and is in the sort of form that can do damage to those at the top of the game.
Juan Martin del Potro sensationally gatecrashed the US Open again on Wednesday, stunning five-champion Roger Federer and shattering hopes of a first NY showdown between the Swiss legend and Rafael Nadal.
Del Potro became a crowd favorite in NY when he captured his only Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2009, using his massive serve and huge flat forehand to beat Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and then Federer in the final. The set went to a tiebreak, and Federer jumped to a 3-0 lead, but del Potro seized control late, winning it 10-8 for a two-set lead and generating a roar from the crowd. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about the fight and not retire.
Del Potro converted the only break point of the opener and took it 7-5.
That would be the highlight of an eye-opening afternoon for the 19-year-old Russian as Nadal showed no mercy during a one hour, 37 minute thrashing. Del Potro paused as the crowd cheered then addressed the folks at Arthur Ashe Stadium directly: "You make me feel happy every time I play here".
Nadal easily returned to the tournament quarterfinals for the first time in four years by routing Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday. "If he felt really bad he would have retired", Thiem said. "I helped him out sometimes, maybe".
Del Potro broke for 2-1 but Thiem played tighter and broke immediately back.
If Federer can get past the towering Argentine it would set up a landmark meeting between the Swiss and Nadal.
Roger Federer, it has to be said, did not look good in the ongoing US Open.
Federer was flat at times Wednesday, but del Potro played exceptionally well. After the easy win over the Russian 19-year-old, the focus was of course on his potential match-up with Roger Federer on Friday, which would be their first at the US Open.
Nadal and Federer, two of the greatest players of all time, have met 37 times, including 12 at the Grand Slams, but never in NY. I knew it was gonna be a tough one. Del Potro then earned an early break in the fourth set, which his Swiss opponent could never get back.
The No. 20 seed matched her best result in a Grand Slam tournament, having also reached the final four at the Australian Open in January.