Del Potro Wins Third Citi Title                              

By Jane Voigt

August 4, 2013 (Washington D. C.) -- Juan Martin del Potro left Stadium Court at 12:15 a.m.this morning and got to bed at 3 a.m. No wonder he struggled in the first set against John Isner in the final this afternoon at Citi Open. 

But once the No. 1 seed and wild card broke Isner in the second set, the rest was, as we say, history. He closed the door on the American fan-favorite, 36 61 62, in a quick ninety minutes.

"It was a faster match but it's Isner and it's hard to play longer points with him," Del Potro said. "But, in the end I'm so glad to win this tournament. I was improving game by game. At the end I hit really good strokes with my forehands." 

Del Potro will head to Montreal for Rogers Cup having won Citi Open three times: 2008, 2009, and 2013. He follows in the footsteps of three countrymen to have won here: Guillermo Vilas (1975, 1977, 1979 on clay), Jose Luis Clerc (1981, 1983 on clay), and David Nalbandian in 2010. Andre Agassi holds the record with 5 titles. 

"I served unbelievable," Del Potro told ESPN2 seconds after his win. "I played my best tennis [of the tournament] in the third set."


Juan Martin del Potro smiles for the cameras, after winning the 2013 Citi Open men's singles title. He defeated John Isner 36 61 62. This is the Argentine's third title from Washington D. C. Photo credit tennisclix

In 2009 Del Potro went on to win the U. S. Open. He defeated Roger Federer, after he sprang from the gates and went up a set, a break, and was serving for the second set. It is Del Potro's single Major title.

The loss for Isner was disappointing, but not a big disappointment. He simply thought Del Potro played better. 

"I wouldn't say call it a big disappointment," Isner began. "I went out there believing I could win and expecting to win. But, I was not as good as my opponent. It was as simple as that."

Isner's fan base at Citi is huge. At his his inaugural appearance in 2007 he entered as a wild card fresh from graduation at Georgia. The Bulldog was a 2-time NCAA doubles champ, taller than tall and served bullets. He stormed through the draw, defeating Tim Henman in his first match, then Benjamin Becker, Wayne Odesnik, Tommy Haas, and Gael Monfils before losing in the final to Andy Roddick. 

Isner's game has matured since. He is much more than a serve, but it remains his biggest asset. However, today, it failed him. He hit only 6 aces and an uncharacteristic 4 double faults. In the first two sets, he connected with one ace per set. But coming in to today's final he'd tallied 29 aces, including six straight in his last two service games of the semifinals. 

"He stood way back on my serve. He stood so far back that the guy calling the sideline had to move," Isner started with a laugh. "The aces were not going to be high since he stood so far back."

Del Potro admitted he was too close to the baseline in the first set to return Isner's serve with any authority. 

"I was almost out of the court to take the ball," Del Potro said, laughing. "I start to return well in the second set. It took me that long to feel the match, to be solid on the match. Against him it's tough to do."


John Isner's serve is his best asset. Today it didn't pay off as well as it has in prior matches during Citi Open. He lost to Juan Martin del Potro in his second final in Washington. 
Photo by Pablo Sanfrancisco/tennisclix

Isner's explanation of less aces seemed somewhat like an excuse. He said he was tired, although he went to bed last night before knowing who he would play today. Del Potro's match played on while John dreamed on. Nonetheless today's final was Isner's 9th match in 11 days. 

Del Potro has now won 14 consecutive matches at Citi Open. 

"It's amazing to win here once again," Del Potro began. "After Wimbledon to be in my first time on hard court, it means a lot. I'm looking forward to Montreal, Cincinnati, New York. That give me big confidence to keep trying and get to the tough guys." 

At one time, Isner was nicknamed 'Gramps.' Both he and Del Potro lumber from one side of the court to the other. They point for the towel, wipe down, blow sweat from their hands and move to the baseline. Once the serve cracks the silence of the stadium they are anything but lumbering giants.

Del Potro gentle giant appeal has won him many fans. His 'fear hand,' as Brad Gilbert, ESPN commentator calls it, has placed the six-six Argentine in the top-three to win the U. S. Open.

"I would put him maybe the smallest hair behind Djokovic and Murray," Isner said, commenting on Del Potro's chances to win the U. S. Open. "He could very easily be the third favorite. You never know about Rafa, coming back to hard courts. But Del Potro has a good shot to go deep. He's obviously one of the favorites."

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013