Juan Martin del Potro, the charismatic Argentinean star, earned a shot at winning his second ASB Classic trophy on Friday after coming through a keenly contested 11th meeting against four-time former champion David Ferrer.
Already assured of a return to the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, second seed del Potro played with great focus to beat seventh seed Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 over one hour and 46 minutes in the Auckland semi-finals.
The 29-year-old will now play fifth-seeded Spaniard and 2016 champion Roberto Bautista Agut in their fifth hard-court meeting. Del Potro, who leads their series 3-1, has won their past three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
“I’m happy to have reached the final again, playing good tennis against one of the toughest guys on Tour,” said del Potro. “I’m excited to play the final tomorrow. It will be difficult for me, for sure. I’d like to repeat my 2009 title, but Bautista Agut is a dangerous player, with experience in finals and he has beaten me in the past.”
In a tense opening, Del Potro broke Ferrer immediately, but his lead soon evaporated prior to converting his second break point chance in the seventh game of the 50-minute first set.
Ferrer continued to fight, but was unable to seal two break points in the fourth game, and a further three in the eighth game of the second set. Del Potro seized his chance, crunching a forehand winner to break to 15 for 5-4.
“The difference was a couple of points and I got lucky to break his serve twice in the first set,” said del Potro. “Then I saved break points in the second set and played good tennis, with strokes down the line. I had to take risks against David, who is a fighter. I am tired, but I will be okay for tomorrow and have time to recover.”
The 35-year-old Ferrer is now 31-9 at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament, where he captured the 2007, 2011-13 trophies.
Del Potro beat Sam Querrey for the 2009 Auckland title – his last appearance at the event – and looks to improve his 20-9 record in tour-level finals (16-9 in hard-court title matches).
He will return to the Top 10 at No. 10 next week for the first since 4 August 2014 (No. 10).
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Auckland Doubles Final Set
Top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic will play Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald (pictured) in the doubles final on Saturday.
Marach and Pavic will look to improve upon their 2-3 record in tour-level finals after they defeated third seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Julio Peralta 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 in 78 minutes. Last week, Marach and Pavic lifted the Qatar ExxonMobil Open crown (d. Murray/Soares). Read Doha Report
Mirnyi and Oswald booked their places in a second ATP World Tour final as a team (2017 KTB Kremlin Cup) with a 7-6(7), 7-6(6) victory over second seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in one hour and 39 minutes. Mirnyi has a 50-44 record in title matches. . read full article