On This Day

  • September 14 down the years

Fed express derailed by Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro's career highlight to date came in New York © Getty Images
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2009 The first player other than Rafael Nadal to beat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam singles final. Before playing Juan Martín del Potro, Federer had won 40 consecutive matches at the US Open since losing to another Argentinian, David Nalbandian, in 2003. Del Potro was appearing in his first Grand Slam singles final; he'd never beaten Federer before; and he lost the first set 6-3. Then he hit two double-faults to go a break down in the second, and Federer served for the second set at 5-4. But Del Potro had thrashed Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 6-2 in the semi-final, and now he hit a tremendous forehand down the line at 30-30. It was called out, but Hawkeye disagreed and Del Potro won the point. Taken to a tiebreak, Federer lost it 7-5. After winning the third set, he was only two points away from the title in the fourth. But he ended up in another tie-break, losing it 7-4. And he cracked after that. Feeding too many balls to Del Potro's forehand, Federer dropped serve immediately and lost the fifth set 6-2.

Del Potro stopped Federer winning the US Open six years in a row. The record of seven wins in total is held by three players, including the greatest of all, who won his seventh today in 1929. Bill Tilden was 36 by then, but he never had much trouble with his doubles partner Frank Hunter, who was only a year younger. By then, the French were playing on Big Bill's age by making him generate his own power. It won them the Davis Cup they still held, and they'd deprived Tilden of the US title for the last three years. But the pace of Hunter's hitting played into Tilden's hands. Hunter led by two sets to one, but Big Bill came back from that deficit so often it looked like a deliberate tactic. He won the last two sets 6-2 6-4. The following year, he was still sprightly enough to win Wimbledon again.

2008 The youngest Formula One driver to win a World Championship race. Germany's Sebastian Vettel was 21 years 73 days old when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. The day before, Vettel had become the youngest to take pole position. It was the first Grand Prix ever won in a Toro Rosso car.

Michael Schumacher's win at the Italian Grand Prix in 2003 was his 69th in F1, adding to his record which still had a way to go, and his 50th for Ferrari. The race had the fastest average winning time of any Grand Prix: 154.740 mph (247.585 kmh), overtaking the 1971 running of the same race ( September 5). Schumacher won the Italian Grand Prix for the fifth time in 2006 ( September 10).

1994 After a players' strike had lasted 34 days, the Major League baseball season was cancelled for the only time in its history.

2002 Running the 100 metres in Paris, Dwain Chambers equalled Linford Christie's United Kingdom and European record of 9.87 seconds. But the run was removed form the record books when Chambers was caught taking drugs in 2003. Christie's time, set in 1993, is still the British record.

1962 Medals of all three colours for British athletes at the European Championships.

In the men's 400 metres, the favourites were Adrian Metcalfe, later a well-known TV commentator, and team mate Robbie Brightwell. But an injury reduced Metcalfe to fourth place here in Belgrade, and the pressure got to Brightwell, who set off too fast in the final. Running on the chewed-up cinders of lane one, he reached 200 metres in 22.2 seconds and had a clear lead coming into the home straight, but the rest were closing. With 40 metres left, Brightwell was wading through treacle as the West Germans came back at him. He tied up badly with 15 to go, but got there just before his legs gave way. His winning time of 45.9 seconds broke the Championship best set by Hans-Joachim Reske the day before. Reske won bronze behind Manfred Kinder, and they avenged themselves with gold in the relay.

In the women's race, Joy Grieveson moved from fourth to second in the last 15 yards, running a British record 53.9 to win silver behind the suspiciously manly Soviet runner Maria Itkina, who retained the title by equalling her own world record of 53.4.

Another dodgy athlete also kept her title today, Romanian high jumper Iolanda Balaş cleared a Championship record 1.83 metres, with 16-year-old British schoolgirl Linda Knowles taking bronze with 1.74.

1923 One of the most dramatic short fights in boxing history, a slugfest that featured eight knockdowns - despite lasting less than four minutes! Jack Dempsey had been world heavyweight champion since destroying Jess Willard four years earlier ( July 4). Big Jess retired after that, then made a comeback which ended once and for all in a knockout defeat by Luis Ángel Firpo of Argentina. The 'Bull of the Pampas' had a real dig on him, punches that came in from a slab of an upper body and made him a genuinely dangerous challenger for Dempsey's world title. And their fight at New York's Polo Grounds couldn't have started more sensationally. The very first body punch, thrown by Firpo, sagged Dempsey's legs, his knees brushing the canvas. Jack responded with an immediate left hook that dropped Firpo like a carcass. When he got up, Dempsey flattened him again. Another left hook made it three knockdowns in quick succession, and Firpo was down twice more before the end of the round. Then the fight's big moment - and touch of controversy. Firpo wasn't much of a boxer, and his lack of defence had already been graphically demonstrated - but there was some serious durability there. He recovered enough to throw a massive right hand which sent Dempsey into the ropes. A slight shove and he was through them. It's said that if Jack hadn't been helped back in by a reporter, he would have lost his title. He certainly blacked out before he got back in and thought he'd been knocked out! Luckily for him, the bell rang soon afterwards. In the first minute of the second round, Dempsey knocked Firpo down twice more and this time the Bull was counted out. A chance for everyone to draw breath. It was Dempsey's last fight for three years. The long gap - and a smarter opponent - cost him his title.

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