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By Randy Walker


In what is being described as the greatest Olympic tennis match ever played, Roger Federer defeated Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (5),19-17 in 4 hours, 26 minutes Friday in an epic Olympic men’s semifinal on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

The win places Federer into Sunday’s gold medal match and guarantees his first ever Olympic medal in singles, and Switzerland’s first medal of the 2012 Games. Federer won Olympic gold in doubles in 2008 in Beijing and lost the bronze medal match in 2000 in Sydney. Del Potro, from Argentina, will next play for bronze.

The Federer-del Potro match was the longest best-of-three set men’s singles match on record, besting the 4 hour, 3 minute match between Novak Djokovic and Rafel Nadal in the semifinal in Madrid in 2009 and the previous longest Olympic best-of-three-set men’s singles match, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeating Milos Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 in 3 hours, 58 minutes in the second round this week.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

The match was played in front of a star-studded crowd that included Microsoft Founder Bill Gates and NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Federer converted on only two of 13 break point opportunities on del Potro, the second being in the second-to-last game of the match. Federer, the world No. 1 fresh off his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title on the same Wimbledon courts, now holds a 13-2 career head-to-head with del Potro, who famously beat him in the 2009 US Open singles final.

The following are how I documented the match on Twitter via by Twitter handle “@TennisPublisher.”


‏@TennisPublisher: Andre Agassi is the only No. 1 men’s seed (since 1988) to win Olympic gold in singles, but he was ranked No. 6 in the world at the time.

@Tennis Publisher: Del Potro’s forehand ranked in tie for 5th all time (with Sampras and Borg) by Steve Flink in his new book here: http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Tennis-Matches-All-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343994941&sr=1-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time …

@TennisPublisher: Roger Federer’s forehand is rated No. 1 all time by Steve Flink in THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIMEhttp://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Tennis-Matches-All-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343994941&sr=1-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time … #London2012

@TennisPublisher: Roger Federer facing break point and Bravo feed goes out! Now it’s Ryan Lochte being interview by Michelle Beadle from NBC Sports Net!

@TennisPublisher: Kobe Bryant entering the Wimbledon grounds for Olympic tennis, per@Bonnie_D_Ford

@TennisPublisher: Bravo to Bravo for showing the missed point that gave del Potro the service break while they had technical problems

@TennisPublisher: Bravo to Bravo for showing the missed point that gave del Potro the service break while they had technical problems

@TennisPublisher: 4 years ago in 2008 during Olympic summer del Potro was winning the first 4 titles of his career: Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, LA, Washington

@TennisPublisher: Aug. 3, 1996: Andre Agassi wins the Olympic gold medal in men’s singles, dominating Spain’s Sergi Bruguera 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in only 78 minutes

@TennisPublisher: Aug. 3, 1996: Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez win gold in women’s doubles, beating Czechs Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna 7-6(6), 6-4

@TennisPublisher: Roger Federer is a dull Swiss Army Knife today…

@TennisPublisher: After this flurry of terrible play, all Federer needs to do is break serve here and it’s a new ball game. del Potro can get nervous too…

@TennisPublisher: Nice iso on BRAVO of Kobe Bryant mouthing “Wow” when Federer hit forehand drop shot winner.

@TennisPublisher: Bravo showing Kobe Bryant freaking out at the Hawk-eye replay of Federer’s squash shot landing on the line at Olympic tennis

@TennisPublisher: I can’t remember who said it back in 2004, but they said they had never seen so much choking ever in tennis than at the Olympics

@TennisPublisher: read my last tweet, per Federer’s open court volley

@TennisPublisher: Will Federer’s bad play continue? Will del Potro stay hot? Will del Potro think about his missed opportunities? We’ll find out in 3rd set

@TennisPublisher: Read how Rod Laver dealt with slippery grass courts in his memoir “The Education of a Tennis Player” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257626?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257626&linkCode=shr&tag=newchapre-20&adid=12TMJE2FA1W360833DP1&creativeASIN=0942257626&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tennisgrandstand.com%2F …#Olympics spikes

@TennisPublisher: Justin Gimelstob calls del Potro’s running forehand the best since Pete Sampras…

@TennisPublisher: Steve Flink rates del Potro’s forehand No. 5 all time – tied with Sampras and Borg – in his new book http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344001346&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time …#OlympicTennis

RT @bgtennisnation: This is the by far the best i have ever seen the big Argie Delpo playing on grass this a is a quality match

@TennisPublisher: New Chapter Press is the publisher of the Roger Federer book “Quest for Perfection” available at http://www.RogerFedererBook.com #London2012

@TennisPublisher: “Every single break point, power wide to the Federer backhand,” says Gimelstob on BRAVO

RT @NeilHarmanTimes: @TennisPublisher But this time he had to play an extra shot, a terrific short-arm jab of a forehand to The Fed’s forehand side..

@TennisPublisher: @jonscott9 Yes, according to Steve Flink in GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME book. Federer’s forehand No. 1 all time!

@TennisPublisher: Kobe Bryant and Juan Martin del Potro are the same height…. 6 foot 6 inches #olympic tennis #London2012

@TennisPublisher: @NYPost_Berman Let’s give the US Open a thumbs up for having tie-breaks in the deciding sets, eh?

@TennisPublisher: Roger Federer’s first serve rated No. 5 all time by Steve Flink in GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME bookhttp://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Tennis-Matches-All-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344003106&sr=1-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time … #london2012

RT @LinzSports: RT @NeilHarmanTimes: Is there any way Murray and Robson will be able to play their mixed doubles tonight? #fedpelpogoingonforever

@TennisPublisher: @linzsports @NeilHarmanTimes Perhaps place Murray and Djokovic on No. 1 after Maria and Maria finish. Also to appease ticket buyers

RT @WorldTennisMag: Roger Federer song “Grand Slam Man” available on I-tunes here:http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tennis-tunes-ep/id423340011?ls=1 …

@TennisPublisher: 0-7 on break points for Federer…

@TennisPublisher: Was that, yet, another crying baby I heard on that break point?

@TennisPublisher: That dive volley winner for del Potro to prevent 0-40 hole could be the defining moment in Olympic men’s singles

@TennisPublisher: del Potro’s dive volley winner could be akin to Djokovic’s forehand return down match point vs. Federer in 2011 US Open semifinals….

@TennisPublisher: Both Federer and del Potro are digging extra deep, knowing that their entire Olympic team, delegation and nation are wanting them to win

@TennisPublisher: Second double fault this game for del Potro #nerves

@TennisPublisher: break point No. 8 for Federer

RT @richarddeitsch: Match time for Federer-delPotro as I send this is 3 hours and 12 minutes. #sieod

@TennisPublisher: The del Potro forehand mis-hit over the baseline resembled the Roddick mishit forehand over the baseline in 2009 Wimbledon final… Fed 10-9

@TennisPublisher: 0-30 point – another crying baby – del Potro has 0-40 now

@TennisPublisher: Del Potro breaks at love 10-10. Olympic nerves are in full flight on Centre Court

RT @TennisGods: How fun #giggling

@TennisPublisher: The most difficult serving game now of Roger Federer’s career?

@TennisPublisher: del Potro had just won 8 of 9 points, Federer just held at love for 11-11, wishing he had done that last game

@TennisPublisher:@richarddeitsch @ashleyKMayo tennis has been live on Bravo all day, everyday. Fantastic coverage…

@TennisPublisher: “Four straight free points,” says Justin Gimelstob on BRAVO as Federer holds for 12-12 from 0-30 down

@TennisPublisher: Winner of this match at a huge disadvantage, but have a day off RT@ptenisnet All of this by way of ensuring gold medal for murray/djoko

@TennisPublisher: unlucky 13s…. 13-13, Federer holds

RT @thetennisspace: Only seven hours left until the council’s 11pm curfew

RT @NeilHarmanTimes: For the first time I got a sense that JMDP was a mite sluggish in movement there. The Fed looked as if he had had a shower

@TennisPublisher: DelPotro holds for 14-13…

RT  @5livetennis: This tournament is now in a pickle. Del Potro is due on Court 2 for mixed doubles. Gone 4pm and Murray still has two matches to play

RT ‏@NeilHarmanTimes: 14-13 to the chap who is ‘a mite sluggish’

RT @NYPost_Berman: Olympic record for match time could be broken with Federer-Del potro. It stands at 3:56, set two days ago by Tsonga-Raonic. We’re 3:46 in.

@TennisPublisher: Fed uses the drop shot…again…0-30 hole on del Potro’s serve

@TennisPublisher: 0-40. triple break point for Federer

@TennisPublisher: del Potro saves three break points. Federer now 1-11 on break points

@TennisPublisher: Forehand winner for del Potro, he wins five points in a row from 0-40 down. He leads 15-14

@TennisPublisher: 3:55 match time right now, according to BRAVO

RT ‏@Ringham7: This is already best match of year. Federer and Delpo playing some unbelievable tennis. How many lines can Delpo hit?

@TennisPublisher: Longest best of three set match on record in Olympic history. Federer hold for 15-15.

@TennisPublisher: 15-15 and we are not two points into the match….

RT ‏@SI_BTBaseline: Federer holds behind some great serving, 15-15. “Bye dad! We’re off to college!” — Myla and Charlene. #tennis

@TennisPublisher: Federer has a 0-30 sniff at 15-15…

@TennisPublisher: three mishit forehands and a row….del Potro back to 30-30

RT @Ataraxis00: I really want to understand the logic of putting the men first if they have a day off before their final.

@TennisPublisher: del Potro wins four straight points to hold for 16-15….4:05 minutes of match time so far….

@TennisPublisher: @CourtLineNews longest best-of-three-set singles match in Olympic history. There have been best of 5 singles matches that have been longer

@TennisPublisher: Federer holds at love for 16-16

@TennisPublisher: singles @SHRolexMasters Fed-JMDP longest 3set match in Open era its 4h 7min, longest previous was 4h 3min in 2009 Madrid SF, Nadal-Djokovic

@TennisPublisher: Del Potro holds … 17-16…

RT @richarddeitsch: dePotro now lead Federer 17-16 in the third set of the Olympic men’s semi. Time of the match: 4:12

@TennisPublisher: BRAVO showing an empty Court No. 2 where del Potro is due to play his mixed doubles match right now!

@TennisPublisher: Federer with a forehand winner, 0-30 hole on del Potro’s serve at 17-17

@TennisPublisher: 0-40 hole now for del Potro…Hawkeye shows his show is just long

@TennisPublisher: Federer now 1-12 on break points. Misses forehand passing shot

@TennisPublisher: Federer splits like Gabby Douglas and hits a squash, badminton shot and del Potro misses. Federer breaks for 18-17.

@TennisPublisher:  Federer serving for match for a second time. First was at 10-9 and was broken at love. Now 15-15.

@TennisPublisher: Federer double faults for 15-30.

@TennisPublisher: del Potro misses forehand wide 30-30. Gimelstob says he is tight.

@TennisPublisher: del Potro missed backhand long. match point for Federer.

@TennisPublisher: Federer misses backhand volley…after two looks at forehands. A bad choke. Deuce

@TennisPublisher: Fed drills forehand winner. Match point no. 2

@TennisPublisher: Federer to Justin Gimelstob on BRAVO on the difference today “I don’t know” 19-17 for Federer.

RT @NeilHarmanTimes: GSM The Fed 19-17 in the third. Quite remarkable really

RT @crosscourt1: Roger Federer will be playing the Gold medal match at the Olympics. After 4h 25min and 36 76 1917

@TennisPublisher: Longest best-of-three set SINGLES match by time on record in Olympic history…

RT ‏@dougrobson: Fed asked what Delpo said to him: “I didn’t quite understand. It was very emotional….”

RT @BrettHaber: Federer. No Words. #AllHeart

RT @SI_BTBaseline: On his second match point, Roger Federer finally comes through. Nice moment at the net as DelPotro is in tears. 36 76 19-17 in 4:25.

RT ‏@BenRothenberg: Olympic tennis: not bad, eh? Federer beats del Potro 19-17 in the third, ending what must be the best Olympic match of all time.#olympics

RT ‏@TennisPublisher: 2008 Olympics: Simon Aspelin, Thomas Johansson d. Arnaud Clement, Michael Llodra 76(6) 46 1917 played in 4 hours, 46 minutes in semifinals

@TennisPublisher: Also, longest best of three-set MEN’S SINGLES match of all time. Nelson-Dunbar-Hepner women’s match was 6:31 in 1984

‏@TennisPublisher: Get the biography of Roger Federer – ROGER FEDERER: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer here: http://www.RogerFedererBook.com 


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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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