Times have been tough for del Potro. Since winning the US Open in 2009, the same year he also reached the last four at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, he has struggled in the grand slams. A semifinal appearance at Wimbledon in 2013 remains his best recent run, while his last ATP tournament title came at Sydney in 2014.
Del Potro’s renaissance has been one of the stories of the tournament, but Murray was widely expected to end the fairytale run.
This was a vital night for Murray’s legacy too. He is the first man to two Olympic singles gold medals, and he has twice as many as Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer have combined.
The third set was a tight affair until Murray converted his second break point in the sixth game, following up at the very next opportunity to claim the set 6-2. To take gold del Potro was going to need to win in five sets, something he hadn’t done since the 2010 Australian Open.