Juan del Potro ended the 21-match win streak of Novak Djokovic with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory on Saturday, which put the Argentine into the final of the Indian Wells Masters against Rafael Nadal.
Nadal reached his first hard-court final in more than a year as the surprising Spaniard defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5.
Del Potro overturned the formbook with his upset in nearly three hours, which left Djokovic with his first loss of 2013.
Despite nine breaks of serve in the marathon — Del Potro broke for a final time for a 5-4 lead in the third set and then finished a game later with an ace — the contest was gold-standard throughout.
“I’m playing with confidence, I’m finding a way to win with my forehand,” said Del Potro, who finished with 25 winners and 34 unforced errors. “I played well in the important moments and finished with a fantastic ace.
“It was such a tough match, especially in the hot conditions. I need to recover now and be ready for Sunday.”
Djokovic expressed disappointment over his form. “All the credit to my opponent today. He deserved to win because he was more composed in the important moments and he played the right shots.
“He stepped into the court, where, on the other side, me, I made a lot of unforced errors and was at back of the court too passive. Now I need a few days off and moving on to Miami.”
Two-time champion Nadal won his 12th match in a row over Berdych, and has claimed their last seven on hard-courts.
“It’s very, very difficult to imagine something like this,” said Nadal. “But here we are today, and very happy about all what happened the last month, especially last three weeks.
“I’m having probably one of my best two tournaments since seven months. Coming back is certainly something amazing for me, totally unexpected, and I received more support than ever from the crowd every place that I played.”