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Roger Federer tops Juan Martin del Potro in Olympic classic

By Bryan Fischer | Blogger

The Olympic motto is 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' but after Friday's epic tennis match between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, 'Longer' will have to be tacked on to it after a 3-6, 7-6, 19-17 marathon victory for the Swiss native to give the London Games the feel of a fifth grand slam.

"It was very emotional for both us and a big match obviously, it was so close and tough for him to lose," Federer said after the match.

The longest Olympic tennis match in history, the two battled it out for four hours and 26 minutes, returning serves bathed in sunlight on Center Court at the All England Club. Del Potro did what he could, looking like the stronger of the two for much of the match but couldn't take advantage when he, well, had an advantage.

Back and forth the two went in the third set, fighting for every inch on the Wimbledon grass. Federer would break del Potro and then del Potro would storm right back. The seesaw of the match made for gripping tennis as each point seemed like an eternity of two great players refusing to yield.

Del Potro, a former grand slam winner, gave notice that this wouldn't be an easy match when he broke Federer in the first set to go up 5-3 and served for the set. The two played in the French Open quarterfinals earlier in the year when the Argentinian had Federer on the ropes up two sets to none but was beaten back in a devastating loss that will surely be replaced by the pain of what he suffered Friday.

An Olympic medal in singles is now assured for Federer, giving him the one missing item on a resume that includes just about record imaginable in the sport. He nearly ended the match when he had three break points at 14-14 but del Potro managed to battle back and hold serve. He didn't get another chance until serving for the match at 18-17 with del Potro's backhand hitting the net to send Federer into the final against either Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

For those that doubt that the Olympics as a major tennis tournament, the look on the mentally and physically drained Federer after the match said it all. As did his sly smile.

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