INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA — Roger Federer will face Juan Martin del Potro for a 25th time in their professional careers in the Indian Wells final on Sunday – a match-up the Swiss describes as an “arm wrestle”.
Federer, the defending champion in Palm Springs seeking a sixth Indian Wells crown, has a long history with Del Potro and leads the tall Argentine 18-6 head-to-head.
But Del Potro has always played him tough and has pulled off the upset over Federer on some of the biggest stages in the sport including a US Open final victory in 2009 for his sole Grand Slam triumph, and more recently a quarter-finals success over the Swiss, also at the US Open, last year.
Before the tournament, Del Potro had told reporters how much he values his rivarly with Federer and that, “if I had to take one match or one opponent to play in a final I would take Roger for sure.”
“Is that a good thing?” asked Federer with a smile when told what Del Potro had said about him.
“I think we have an interesting match-up,” added the 36-year-old Federer.
“We both know what the other is trying to do, and we try to stop the other person from doing it. But it’s hard when me or him is in full flight. It’s basically an arm wrestle the whole time, and I think we enjoy that.
“We know each other well. I think we respect each other in a big way. We’re both happy for one another, I think, when we do well, generally happy.
“So it’s nice to see him back in the top 10 and making big strides now, and I think he’s going to have a great season. I’m very happy for him.”
Del Potro reached his second career Indian Wells final on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Milos Raonic. Back in the top-10 and seeded No. 6 in the California desert, Del Potro is on a 10-match winning streak, having won the title in Acapulco earlier this month, and has notched a 400th career victory to join Guillermo Vilas as the only Argentines in the 400 wins club.
The 29-year-old from Tandil is seeking a first Masters 1000 crown. He was the runner-up here in 2013.
Federer is on a winning streak himself and has started a season with a clean 17-0 record for the first time in his two-decade-long career.
“Took a while. Took a while to get the record,” Federer, who came back from a set and a break down to defeat Coric on Saturday, said with a grin.
“But, no, I’m happy. Look, especially also with the match, it was just a fighting match rather than, like — it didn’t come easy, so I had to go get it. Also got a little bit lucky, of course, throughout the match.
“I hung tough and put a lot of effort into it to get the record, if you like. I mean, you go from one to the next. Clearly, the focus has to be the finals right now and not enjoying the record.
“But it’s nice to get off to a good start this year, and I hope I can play well again tomorrow.”
Know more about Sport360 Application