NEW YORK -- The game's next big thing announced himself Monday night. But
But those are merely numerical landmarks. Del Potro entered a whole new category in New York: He slayed
Del Potro's stunning 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory -- the match lasted 4 hours and 6 minutes -- was Federer's first loss at the Open since 2003, a span of 41 matches and 2,200 days. It was also del Potro's first win over the Swiss star in seven tries. Most impressive of all, del Potro became the first player to defeat
"I thought he hung in there and gave himself chances, and in the end was the better man," Federer said.
It was a remarkable display of power tennis from del Potro, who seemingly flicked a switch in the middle of the second set after a case of nerves in the opener.
But perhaps we should have seen this coming. Del Potro is 17-1 since Wimbledon and responsible for Nadal's worst defeat in a Grand Slam, a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 semifinal rout on Sunday.
"It's difficult to explain this moment," del Potro said. "You know, since young I dream with this and take trophy with me. You know, I did my dream, and it's unbelievable moment. It's amazing match, amazing people. Everything is perfect."
Federer was playing in his 22nd Grand Slam final and going for his 16th major title. He was also bidding to become the first male player since
"Five was great, four was great," Federer said. "Six would have been a dream, too. Can't have them all. I've had an amazing summer and a great run. I'm not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament. Had chances today to win, but couldn't take them."
Federer had his chances early. Del Potro was frayed with nerves from the first ball and soon possessed the body language of a patron in a Buenos Aires café following a loss by the national soccer team.
"The beginning of the match I was so nervous," del Potro said. "I can't sleep last night. I don't take a breakfast today."
And Federer had his lunch early. He broke the 20-year-old on his sixth break point in the second game, hitting an otherworldly cross-court forehand winner that prompted his father,
The crowd was filled with celebrity Fedophiles -- the guests in his friends box included rockers
When Garner told him to settle down, Federer channeled his inner
The foul-mouthed Federer did not play as well as the clean-speaking Federer. Del Potro broke Federer at love in the fifth game of the fourth set to take a 3-2 lead. As the match progressed, del Potro continued to pound deep groundstrokes from both wings, especially from his forehand (he hit 37 winners from that side). Federer added to his misery by serving miserably throughout the match (50 percent on first serves). But he broke del Potro in the eighth game of the fourth to make it 4-4. Federer held his serve but del Potro came back with two aces on his serve to make it 5-5. The set eventually went to a tiebreak after 3 hours and 22 minutes of play. Federer opened the tiebreak with a double fault, his eighth. Del Potro ended up winning the tiebreak (7-4) to level the match.
He then ran away from Federer in the final set, taking leads of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2 as the crowd started sensing the upset. Federer saved two championship points on his serve followed by two deuces, but then double-faulted (his 11th of the match) to give del Potro a third championship point. Del Potro finally won it when Federer sailed a backhand long. He collapsed immediately on his back. "Great tournament," Federer told him at net.
With his win, del Potro climbs to a career-high ranking of No. 5 and leaps over
This one would not.
"I think the first major is always a big deal," Federer said. "Best feeling on the planet after all the hard work you put in. Especially nice when it comes when you're quite young because it comes kind of unexpected for him as well even though he put himself in a good opportunity and position. He deserves it."
After a gut-wrenching loss to Nadal at the Australian Open and questions about his dominance, Federer ultimately had a remarkable year. He finally captured the French -- a soaring win over
"Unbelievable run," Federer said. "Being in all major finals and winning two of those, I'm losing the other two in five sets. Sure, I would have loved to win those two as well. Being so close, I think I was two points from the match today. That's the way it goes sometimes. But the year has been amazing already and it's not over yet. Got married and had kids. Don't know how much more I want."
Federer's Grand Slam campaign began with tears and a painful admission: "God, it's killing me," he said in February, sobbing into a microphone after his five-set final loss to Nadal in Australia. It ended with his opponent crying at center court of the U.S. Open after passing along a message in Spanish to his parents back in Argentina. Somebody eventually asked del Potro if he was going to take his prize money ($1.85 million including a U.S. Open Series bonus) and splurge on something big. "No," he said. "Maybe cheesecake for my birthday."
He turns 21 in eight days.