Upset Averted: Federer Fights Back In Miami
Being aggressive and coming forward often, Radu Albot produced an impressive display to push Federer to the brink of defeat in his Miami opener. But, as day turned to night in South Florida, Federer would navigate to the finish line, prevailing 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes. He fired 38 winners, including 15 off his forehand wing, while overcoming 41 unforced errors.
"It's always going to feel very different in a massive place like this," said Federer, referring to the new venue at Hard Rock Stadium. "It was definitely different, especially very different to Key Biscayne last year. I'm happy I got it out of the way. I'm happy I was able to find a way tonight.
"It was a good atmosphere at the end. I thought it was quite electric, how it usually is in Miami. I'm happy that hasn't gone away."
In one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season, Thanasi Kokkinakis sent shockwaves throughout the ATP Tour with a deciding tie-break victory over Federer. Unfazed and showing great poise, Albot sought to replicate the feat behind a strong start. Using his great agility and steady baseline game, he put immense pressure on Federer in the early stages. As he's done throughout his career, the 37-year-old found a solution with his back against the wall.
The World No. 5 Federer stopped Albot from achieving his first win over a Top 10 opponent (0-5) and secured his first comeback from a set down in Miami since 2012 (d. Roddick). He will next face Serbia's Filip Krajinovic on Monday.
"I expected a player with a great attitude, which he showed. An aggressive baseliner, who moves well. He's not afraid to come to the net. The problem is I've never practiced with him. I've never really seen him play live matches.
"I thought it was hard. I have a lot of respect for those types of players who don't have the size, have to find a different way to win. He's a great, great player. I was impressed."
Federer, who made his tournament debut 20 years ago, is making his 18th tournament appearance. He is a three-time champion, lifting trophies in 2005-06 and 2017. Two years ago, he downed Rafael Nadal for the championship.
Six days after falling in the BNP Paribas Open final to Dominic Thiem, Federer continues his quest for a 28th ATP Masters 1000 crown. He has enjoyed great success at the 'March Masters' events and carries a 51-14 record into the Miami third round.
Federer struggled to convert break points (2/11) in his final defeat to Dominic Thiem at the BNP Paribas Open. And that trend would continue on a sun-kissed Saturday evening in Miami. After conceding an immediate break, Federer had four opportunities to draw level, including a 0/40 look. But Albot held his nerve, fending off the Basel native and eventually closing out the opener 6-4.
Federer failed to convert on another chance to break midway through the second set, as Albot kept his cool under heavy pressure. But the man they call 'The Machine' was unable to withstand the Swiss barrage as the business end of the set arrived. Serving to force a tie-break at 5-6, Albot dropped serve for the first time as Federer sliced a backhand volley winner.
Momentum would swing to Federer's end in a flash as he forced a decider. Albot had a peak at a break point at 3-all when Federer struck a double fault, but the Swiss would respond with authority, firing three straight service winners to escape trouble. And he would claim the decisive break in the next game before closing out the victory after just over two hours.
Earlier in the day, Filip Krajinovic denied an all-Swiss rematch, defeating Stan Wawrinka 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5) in the first meeting between the pair. The Serbian World No. 103 rallied from behind in a third-set tie-break to upset 30th-seeded Wawrinka.
The 27-year-old, who trailed 2-4 in the 'breaker, continued his recent good form which saw him come through qualifying in Indian Wells to beat David Goffin and Daniil Medvedev before falling to Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.
Federer leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Krajinovic at 2-0. He triumphed a year ago in Indian Wells, before earning a three-set win on home soil in Basel.