Federer Surges Past del Potro In Miami

Swiss will face Bautista Agut in Miami fourth round

Roger Federer added another big win to his nearly invincible 2017 on Monday, fighting off Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Federer, a two-time Miami champion (2005-06), never lost his serve against the powerful right-hander, who had five break chances but couldn't convert any of them. The win improves Federer to 15-1 on the season and 46-13 for his career at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

“I felt like I was in control and I was able to generate more chances than he did,” Federer said. “I was more the aggressor. It was more on my racquet, and I like it that way.”

Federer also extends his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against del Potro to 16-5. Perhaps more impressive, the Swiss star adds del Potro's name to his list of defeated opponents during his comeback season, a ledger that also includes Top 10 players Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal.

In the round of 16, Federer will try to add 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut to that list. The Spaniard came back to beat American Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 55 minutes.

“He competes so well point for point, day in day out, and he plays a ton of tournaments, and he's really just match tough... I hope I can use my variation to really make him feel uncomfortable,” said Federer, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0 and is a perfect 12-0 in sets against the Spaniard. 

The third-round showdown between Federer and del Potro was their first meeting since the round-robin stage of the 2013 ATP Finals, but they renewed their rivalry with vigor from the start on Monday afternoon. Federer sought to stay away from del Potro's rocket forehand, targetting the backhand wing and seeking to catch del Potro favouring that side. Del Potro looked to crush his best stroke as often as he could.

But it was the 35-year-old Federer, as he has been all season long, who was more on point in front of a packed and boisterous crowd on Stadium Court. After failing to convert two break points at 3-2, Federer seized the occasion in the eighth game, ripping a forehand past del Potro, who left a backhand slice too short to challenge Federer.

Serving at 5-3, the fourth-seeded Swiss erased four break points and finished the set with a backhand drop shot that del Potro could only watch. “Looking back, that was probably the key. I knew when he had the break point at 15/40, if I could dig my way out of that game, and instead of being broken, hold and win the set, it's a good escape,” Federer said. “So I think I did well there. Juan Martin didn't play his best because he did have his chances there on second serves and he could've done better, maybe played more aggressive, who knows what. But I hit some good shots to stay in there.”

Federer didn't wait long to break in the second set, taking advantage of his first opportunity to go up 3-2. One break was all he would need as he served out their 21st FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting to love.

“It's not easy playing against Roger because he has good forehand, good backhand, slice, drop shot, everything,” del Potro said. “But think I did my best, and I had chances in both sets and I couldn't take it. He played well in the break-point moments, and I think that was the only difference of the match.” 

 Watch Full Match Replays

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