The 2012 U.S. Open resumed competition on Thursday night at Flushing Meadows Park in New York where 2nd seed Novak Djokovic took on 6th seeded Juan Martin del Potro before a sold-out crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Under balmy conditions for the quarterfinal, Djokovic and del Potro hit the court for one of the premier matches of the entire U.S. Open.
In the first set, Djokovic started strong by taking the deciding break early since Delpo had few answers for the 2nd seed’s incredible defense. Although Novak’s first serve percentage wasn’t great, Djokovic delivered a barrage of punishing backhand rallies to keep del Potro off of his game. Although Delpo nearly turned the tables early in the match with a powerful serve, Djokovic stabbed a backhand return to rob the towering Argentine of what would have been an ace. After the first set, Djokovic walked away with a 6-2 set victory.
The second set, however, proved to be a much tighter and thrilling affair when del Potro got an early break on Djokovic’s waning service game. Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted with fan approval. Although the crowd was firmly in del Potro’s corner throughout the set, it was Djokovic who couldn’t buy a first serve. After a 17-minute game that del Potro ultimately held serve on, Djokovic somehow got the break to even the score at 6-6.
Second set: tiebreak. It was the make-or-break moment for Juan del Potro who needed to win just to level the match. But with a suddenly rejuvenated Novak Djokovic, it was a tall order for the 6th seed. At 3-3 in the breaker, Djokovic reeled off three consecutive points to leave fans on the edges of their seats. Point for Nole, up two sets over Juan Martin, who could only hang over the net in disgrace after a misplaced return.
In the final set, Djokovic and Delpo traded breaks. The crowd could sense del Potro fading from Novak’s returns. It was Djokovic’s late impressive balance of offense and defense that forced another error from Delpo! Although the crowd begged for a comeback from del Potro, it wasn’t meant to be on Thursday night. Djokovic reclaimed his early momentum and closed out the match 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
In his post-match conference, it was Novak who said it best, “After some points in the tiebreaker, we both got standing ovations and applause,” the 2nd seed admitted. “That was an incredible feeling for a player.”