Roger Federer has moved to quickly dismiss any suggestions of enmity between himself and Juan Martin del Potro after their match at the BNP Paribas Open final on March 18, which the Argentine went on to win in three sets.
The Swiss ace was looking for his third title of 2018 and to continue his undefeated streak — which was at 17-0, his best start to a season — but Del Potro had other plans, as he too was seeking his second title of the year.
Following the early exits of Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych, the Argentine was one of the only players left in the draw that could end Federer’s streak and he accomplished it in a hard-fought match in the final. The victory was not straightforward as Del Potro had to save two match points before winning the third set in a tie-breaker.
It was a feisty encounter with both players playing aggressive tennis, but the topic of a possible enmity came after the game when the duo’s handshake seemed swift. This raised questions about the possibility of there being underlying hostility between the two players.
Federer has been quick to deny any animosity between the two players while also indicating that it was an easy loss to get over as either player could have won the encounter at Indian Wells. The 36-year-old has had a phenomenal last 14-months following his return from injury. He won nine titles in that time including three Grand Slams and admitted that maybe some of the luck he has had in that period was not around.
“The handshake (with Del Potro) was a good one, you know, so I’m happy about how I played and how I felt afterwards,” Federer said on Thursday, as quoted by the Express. “Didn’t take me a whole lot of time to get over it, to be honest, because I felt like it could have gone either way.”
“Unfortunately I wasn’t on the winner’s side because maybe I have had enough luck throughout the last 14 months on my side of the court, so it’s okay to lose some,” he said.
However, former British women’s number one Annabel Croft remains adamant that there is “real spiciness” between them. She believes the rivalry has stemmed from the Argentine’s wins over Federer at important events.
Ending his winning streak in 2018 was not the first time Del Potro has played spoilsport, as it was the Argentine, who broke Federer’s charge to a sixth consecutive US Open title in 2009 when he defeated the Swiss maestro in the final at Flushing Meadows. He also defeated the eight-time Wimbledon winner in the finals of his hometown event in Basel on three occasions.
“They have a real spiciness between the two of them,” Croft said about the Federer-Del Potro rivalry. “Del Potro has beaten him seven times and he’s beaten him in some very big tournaments — he beat him in Basel in Roger’s home town as well and of course at the Olympics.”
“They definitely have a real spiciness between the two of them,” she added.