Federer Loses to Del Potro, Delaying Berth at ATP Season Finale

Former World No. 1 tennis player Roger Federer was beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro in the final of the Swiss Indoors for the second straight year, prolonging his quest to secure a spot at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

A win would have ensured Federer’s 12th straight appearance in the championship for the top eight men’s tennis players, held in London Nov. 4-11. He will now have to wait until next week’s Paris Masters to claim a berth.

Del Potro of Argentina retained his title with a 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-4 win. It was his fourth ATP title of the season and the 17th of his career. The world No. 5 has beaten Federer in their last three matches. Prior to that, he had won only two of their previous 15 meetings.

Federer, 32, was bidding for a sixth Swiss Indoors title, held in his hometown of Basel. The first seven games of the match went with serve before Del Potro broke for a 5-3 lead. Federer immediately broke back to love and then saved two set points on his own serve before leveling at 5-5. The next two games went with serve to take the players into a tie-break which Del Potro won 7-3.

World No. 6 Federer fought back in the second set as Del Potro’s first serve let him down. He broke the Argentine twice to win 6-2.

In the decider, the momentum immediately swung back to Del Potro as Federer double-faulted twice in losing his opening service game. Del Potro, 25, then survived two break points on his own serve but held on to extend the advantage. From then on he was rarely threatened, and served out comfortably for the victory and a winner’s check of 348,000 euros ($480,000).

Equal Record

Del Potro has already qualified for the Tour Finals in London. Federer will have to beat Kevin Anderson or Mikhail Youzhny in a second-round match in Paris to secure his place. A 12th appearance would equal Ivan Lendl’s record for the most successive appearances at the season finale.

Earlier this month Federer split with his coach Paul Annacone after failing to reach the final of any of the four Grand Slam tournaments for the first time since 2002.

He made his earliest exit from the U.S. Open in 10 years in September when beaten by 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain in a fourth-round match. He also lost this year in the second round of Wimbledon, a tournament where he has previously triumphed seven times, and was defeated in the quarterfinals of the French Open and the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Elsewhere, world No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny upset No. 3 David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 7-5 to win the Valencia Open. It was the 31-year-old Russian’s second ATP title of the season and the 10th of his career.

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