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Del Potro Continues Finals Qualification Bid In Basel

Whisper it quietly, but Juan Martin del Potro is building momentum for a shot at Nitto ATP Finals qualification. Five days on from capturing his 20th tour-level title at the Intrum Stockholm Open (d. Dimitrov), the popular Argentine is through to the Swiss Indoors Basel semi-finals.

Juan Martin del Potro battles past Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday for a place in the Basel semi-finals.
His 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 quarter-final victory over sixth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, one of the cleanest strikers on the ATP World Tour, on Friday was anything but easy, but it gave del Potro an extra 90 points to move up to No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Race To London.

Del Potro is now 310 points behind ninth-placed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who holds the final automatic qualification spot for the Nitto ATP Finals. Carreno Busta, American Sam Querrey, who is No. 11, and South African Kevin Anderson, at No. 12, all lost earlier this week and await the start of next week’s Rolex Paris Masters. Two qualification spots remain up for grabs at the prestigious season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November.

“It was a really hard match, Bautista played some unbelievable shots the whole match,” said del Potro. “We played at a great level and I survived and I’m still alive to qualify for London [at the Nitto ATP Finals]. I know I am getting closer and closer to qualifying, but I need to keep winning here and in Paris. We’ll then see if I qualify or not.”

Fourth seed and 2012-13 Basel champion del Potro moved clear at 4-4 in the deciding set against Bautista Agut, breaking on his third opportunity of the ninth game. He then saved one break point when serving for the match in their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (del Potro now leads 3-1).

Memories are strong of del Potro beating Roger Federer, Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling en route to the 2009 Nitto ATP Finals title match (l. to Davydenko), when the season finale first moved to The O2 in London, and the 29-year-old will be hoping over the next nine days of the regular 2017 ATP World Tour season he will do enough to qualify for the fifth time (also 2008, 2012-13).

If del Potro does manage to qualify, he may meet Marin Cilic, who has already secured his London bid. But he is guaranteed to meet him in Basel. The Croatian survived a thrilling three-hour, two-minute battle to defeat qualifier Marton Fucsovics, 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(4), to set up a semi-final clash against del Potro.

Cilic spoiled what almost was a dream ATP World Tour quarter-final debut for Fucsovics, who was facing a player in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time. Now last year's Basel winner moves on to pursue his second title of the season (Istanbul).

It certainly was not easy for Cilic to get to the semi-finals, though. The Wimbledon finalist held a double-break lead at 4-1 in the deciding set, but the tough Hungarian forced Cilic to scrap hard in the finale. Cilic missed some key volleys to allow Fucsovics back in the match, with the No. 100 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings fending off the defending champion as he served for the match at 5-4, eventually forcing the match to a deciding tie-break. Once there, Cilic regained control and did not let slip a 5-0 lead, advancing to the semi-finals on his fourth match point.

Source: https://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/cilic-del-potro-basel-2017-friday

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