For the first time since 2003, Roger Federer walked off a U.S. Open court a loser.
The five-time defending champion was defeated in five sets this evening by 20-year-old Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. It's the second loss in a Grand Slam final this year for Federer. He lost the Australian Open in five sets to Rafael Nadal before winning the French Open and Wimbledon.
It took a little over four hours for del Potro to best the five-time champ, using a missile-like forehand to force Federer into a stunning 62 unforced errors. By comparison, Federer had just 38 in the Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick in a match that had 24 more games.
At numerous points in the match it looked like del Potro's prospects were on the verge of slipping away, but the 6-foot-6 bomber battled back each time. Before the final, it was figured that a longer match would favor the smaller, more nimble Federer. But del Potro was the player who looked fresher as the match crept past the four-hour mark. His serve improved in every set, while Federer uncharacteristicaly struggled to get in his first serves.
Though I'm a huge fan of Federer, the victory by del Potro is great for tennis. Two nights after one of the lowest points in the recent history of the sport, a 20-year-old beat his idol and ushered in a new era of the men's game, one in which it's not just Roger, Rafa and everyone else.