Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro fired down 14 aces on his way to a comfortable straight sets win over No16 seed Tommy Robredo, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2 in just over two hours to book his place in the final four of a major for the first time in his fledgling career.
On paper, this looked to be a battle between youth and experience. 27-year-old Robredo had made the quarter-finals of the French four times – at two-year intervals in fact since 2003 – and was playing his 259th tie on clay, a surface on which he led the tour this year with 25 wins for only six defeats.
His 20-year-old Argentinean opponent meanwhile is a rising star, the youngest man ever to finish the year in the top 10 (in 2008) and playing his third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final. While hard courts are his preferred surface, he won on red dirt in Stuttgart and Kitzbuhel last year – the first half of a run of four straight titles which created an ATP record.
No5 seed Del Potro was quicker out of the blocks, holding serve comfortably and pushing Robredo’s to deuce. The break came in the sixth game, and the 6’5” Argentinean served out comfortably to take the first set in a little over half an hour. The second stanza was a much tighter affair with Del Potro pushed to deuce on no fewer than seven occasions and facing six break points, but whenever he was in a hole, he either pulled out an ace or served big and followed up with a volley – an uncommon tactic for the 20-year-old but one which proved effective. He again broke mid-set and then served out for a 2-0 lead.
Facing elimination, Robredo only managed to earn himself one break point in the third and final set, and the only time when Del Potro looked uncomfortable was when he served for the match. Four match points came and went, one negated by a double fault, as his first serve deserted him, but he finally closed out the match and booked his date with 13-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in Friday’s semi-final.