(February 17, 2013) -- Juan Martin del Potro defeated Julien Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3 in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament final on Sunday, denying the Frenchman his first career title and earning his 14th in the process.
Del Potro becomes only the second Argentine to win the event on its 40th anniversary, and the first to do so since Guillermo Vilas in 1982.
Despite losing his serve for the first time all tournament to fall behind 2-0 in the opening set, Del Potro rallied to win the next four games and looked to be in control of the set. But Benneteau, who ended his fine run in Rotterdam with 16 service breaks in 49 return games, broke Del Potro again to force a first-set tiebreaker.
“Julien played fantastic,” a satisfied Del Potro would say afterwards. “He deserved to be here. I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.”
But Benneteau’s fine play wouldn’t be enough to push him past one of the best indoor players in the game. Del Potro now owns a career record of 67-32 under a roof, including 25-4 since the beginning of 2012.
Del Potro took the tiebreaker to grab the lead then broke Benneteau in the second game of the second set to race out to a commanding 3-0 advantage in the second set. With his nerves quelled, Del Potro started to connect on his first serve, winning 19 of 21 first serve points in the set and cracking five of his 13 aces.
After failing to convert on four match points in the 8th game, Del Potro calmly took the balls to serve out the match to love. Even a mysterious bloody nose, which occurred spontaneously before the final game, couldn't deter Del Potro.
All in all it was another bittersweet loss for Benneteau, who now leads all active players with eight finals played without winning a title. Yet despite the loss the Frenchman can take consolation in the fact that he played what was perhaps the match of the tournament when he upset Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
Benneteau then posted another top 20 win when he defeated his compatriot Gilles Simon in Saturday’s semifinal.
But Del Potro, who lost in last year’s final to Roger Federer, proved to be too much for Benneteau in the pair’s first career meeting. The World No. 7 won 20 of 26 points on the evening, and forced 12 break point opportunities, converting on three.
"It feels amazing, it was a big goal for me to win this title after losing the final last year," said Del Potro. "I'm so happy to be the champion.”