Roger Federer admitted he didn’t deserve to beat Juan Martin del Potro after he was sent packing on Wednesday night in New York.
Del Potro, sick and exhausted after his epic comeback to beat Dominic Thiem on Monday, upset the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion on the same court where he ended his five-year title run and 40-match winning streak in 2009.
The giant Argentine saved four set points in the third set tie-break before going on to win in four sets and deny Federer a first-ever US Open meeting against Rafael Nadal.
This is the sixth time Federer and Nadal have come within one match of meeting in New York, but the 36-year-old insisted it was his physical struggles, along with the form of Del Potro, that decided the comprehensive loss.
Asked if he was thinking about Nadal, the third seed said: “I wasn’t. You were. It’s not more frustrating. It’s been a tough tournament throughout.
“I honestly was only thinking about tonight. My head didn’t even wander during the match. I knew it was going to be a tough one. I had struggled too much throughout the tournament to think too far ahead.
“In some ways I’m actually happy I made the quarters, so I’m not disappointed, because it’s been a good run this year already. Unfortunately I ran into a guy who was better than me today.
“Juan Martin deserves it more. I feel I have no place in the semis and he will have a better chance to beat Rafa.”
Federer made 41 unforced errors, nine more than his rival, and some of them were well off target but said he wasn’t too disheartened after two Grand Slam titles in 2017.
“I tried until the very end, “Federer said. “And smashing certain stuff in the net that I normally wouldn’t, smashing forehand volleys into the back fence, I mean, that stuff sucked. You know, honestly, it was terrible.
“It should hurt, and it does, rightfully so, but I think my perspective at this age and with the season I’ve had is easier to grasp faster, so I’ll be fine quickly.”
After picking up a back injury during the Montreal Masters final defeat to 20-year-old Germany’s Alexander Zverev, Federer admitted the problem hindered his chances at Flushing Meadows.
“I just think it slowed down my rhythm and whatever it was throughout the tournament, because I was never really able to turn it on completely,” Federer added.
“I played OK, but I never felt like I got to the great level I can play at, but that’s OK.
“I’m out of this tournament because I wasn’t good enough in my mind, my body and my game.”
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