Tennis Expert & Columnist
Juan Martin del Potro has put himself in the mix to become world No 1, says Annabel Croft
"I don't think Roger is ready to give up his time at the top of the game just yet, but I do think he is definitely, definitely putting himself in the mix"
Last Updated: 20/03/18 5:00pm
"Juan Martin del Potro is definitely putting himself in the mix to become a future world No 1." Annabel Croft reflects on stunning Indian Wells win for big serving Argentine.
Del Potro handed top-ranked Roger Federer his first loss of the year with a tense 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-2) victory in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells on Sunday.
Del Potro ends Federer run to win title
Juan Martin del Potro ends Roger Federer's unbeaten run to win BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells
The nailbiting final lasted almost three hours as the raucous Southern California crowd cheered the 36-year-old Federer along, and both players took occasional issue with the chair umpire.
But it was the red-hot Del Potro who put an end to the Swiss star's 17-match winning streak. He has now won 11 consecutive matches as he followed up his success in Acapulco by earning his first ever Masters 1000 title nine years after winning the US Open.
He is one of the few players who can mentally challenge the very best in the world.
Annabel Croft on Juan Martin del Potro
"I don't think Roger is ready to give up his time at the top of the game just yet, but I do think he is definitely, definitely putting himself in the mix," Croft told Sky Sports.
"Because of this rivalry that he does have with Roger Federer, and it's been denied for several years because of the injury problems that he's had, he is one of the few players who can mentally challenge the very best in the world.
"It's taken him so long to get back into the situation because when you come back from injury you're going to be ranked a little bit lower you're going to meet these top players earlier in events and he's had to battle his way through all of that."
Croft was left in amazement by Del Potro's lethal forehand which eventually wore the world No 1 down as he rallied from three match points down in the third set to record a sensational victory.
"We all saw the quality when he was a young teenager who burst out onto the tour. We knew this explosive, exciting game that he possesses," Croft said. "Even today it was quite amazing how Del Potro connected with that running forehand when he takes the ball up the line. This crowd were absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer pace - it's the timing when he connect with the ball. It's a absolutely a sight to behold and it's an unusual shot because he takes a big back-swing."
I feel like this guy is on a trajectory upwards. He's going to be in the top five and maybe make a run even higher.
Leif Shiras says the only way is up for Del Potro
Leif Shiras added: "Del Potro has a huge strike zone. He can hit the ball when it's low, he can hit it when it's high. He's also a great volleyer - I'm surprised he doesn't come to the net more the way he reads balls and makes instinctive plays at the net. I feel like this guy is on a trajectory upwards. He's going to be in the top five and maybe make a run even higher."
You can watch more ATP Masters 1000 action from the Miami Open when we return on Sky Sports Arena next Wednesday at 3pm.
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