One (Large) Step at a Time

Juan Martin del Potro won his first title in his first final since capturing the 2009 U.S. Open with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Janko Tipsarevic on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Del Potro, on the comeback trail after missing most of last season with a right wrist injury, looked fatigue throughout the finals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. But he willed himself to victory over the erratic Tipsarevic, then thrust his arms in the air and kept kissing his wrist - almost in thanks for healing.

''Three months ago I was thinking I'll be trying to play tournaments,'' Del Potro said. ''Now I won a tournament. It's great to win a tournament after a year.''

Del Potro should make a big move from No. 166 when the next ATP Tour rankings are released. But he knows there is still a long way to go before he contends with top players again. The Argentine, who has eight career wins, reached the semifinals of San Jose and Memphis in advance of playing Delray Beach. He plans to stay in South Florida and skip the Davis Cup for Argentina this coming weekend, then play at Indiana Wells or Miami later in March.

``I don't know if I'm ready to fight with top-10 players, but I'm working very hard and hope to do it soon,'' Del Potro said. ``I need 20 to 25 matches before I'll really be ready to play with them, but it's coming soon.''

The 52nd-ranked Tipsarevic was trying to win his first title in three career finals, but couldn't hold onto his early advantage in the match. The Serbian struggled on his serve, posting only a 49 percent first service percentage, throughout the match. He only was able to capitalize on one of 11 break points on Del Potro's serve.

''The key was the break points and my first serve percentage was horrible,'' Tipsarevic said. ''All the factors were going my way to win. But I really didn't use my chances. ''One of 11 break points - it's completely unacceptable against a guy like this in a final.''

At the beginning of the match, Tipsarevic raced to a 4-1 lead. Del Potro was looking flat and couldn't find any range with his trademark forehand. Tipsarevic played a poor seventh service game to hand del Potro back the service break, which turned the match to his favor. In the second set, del Potro scored the one necessary service break in the fifth game. Tipsarevic was heading off to join his Serbian Davis Cup teammates in Novi Sad, Serbia, where they'll begin defense of their 2010 Davis Cup title against India.