Federer's classy tribute to del Potro after loss

Roger Federer win streak over as Juan Martin del Potro claims Indian Wells title

But Del Potro stormed back to force another tie-break which he breezed through 7-2 to claim a memorable 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/2) triumph.

"I've been working hard to get this".

A Federer drop shot, expertly chased down by Del Potro, was followed by a lob and then a hotdog from the Argentine, before two more volleys from the 36-year-old brought an end to a sublime point and brought the crowd to its feet.

Del Potro, who had already won his first title of the season at Acapulco earlier in March, will be looking for the 23rd of his career at next week's Miami Open.

Federer is 290-points ahead going into the tournament in Miami, but his long-time rival's absence ensures he has a buffer of 890-points as he plays at the second North American Masters Series event. "Standing at the trophy ceremony, I thought, 'I would like to play that tiebreaker again, because I don't know what the hell happened, '" the oldest world No. 1 explained afterward.

"Well played today, tough match but well done you deserve it, you were the better player in the end", he said.

The Argentine has regained form over the last two seasons but although he entered Sunday's final on a 10-match winning streak, he was still inevitably playing underdog to Swiss world number one Federer.

Del Potro, who upstaged Federer in the US Open decider nine years ago, needed nearly three hours to see off the 20-time grand slam champion.

Federer had been searching for a record sixth title in California, but it was Del Potro who powered to his first ATP Masters 1000 title.

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Del Potro saved three match points and wasted a match point of his own in the second set.

Federer had a chance to serve out the match, but he could not add another victory on Sunday.

Federer had to save a championship point after some superb, quick serves from Del Potro and then finally closed out the set on his fifth attempt.

It was a see-sawing match with brilliant tennis from both players and fistfuls of tension throughout.

"It's so big", Del Potro said afterwards.

Del Potro raced out of the gate with an aggressive, in-your-face game, gaining the first set lead.

And Federer made him pay for his error, winning the two following points to take the match to a third and deciding set. "The people were excited on every single point", said Del Potro said.

"As close as it can be sometimes when you're not feeling it or momentum has shifted, it's just insane how it can go the other way", said the Swiss.

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