Federer outlasts ace king Karlovic in Miami opener

Fifth seed Roger Federer defeated the ATP World Tour’s ace-leader this year, Ivo Karlovic, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Friday for a place in the Sony Open Tennis third round. It was his 20th win in 23 matches this year.

Federer, who is making his 15th appearance at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard-court tournament in Miami, lifted the trophy in 2005 (d. Nadal) and 2006 (d. Ljubicic). He will next play Thiemo de Bakker who defeated No. 28 seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-2.

Federer broke Karlovic in the fifth game and only lost one point on serve in the 29-minute opener. It came at 5-4, 40/0. Federer lost just one of his service points en route to the second set tie-break. He is now 11-1 lifetime against Karlovic, after victory in 75 minutes. Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour watched from Federer's box.

"I made sure I had a lot of first serves in, made sure I stayed aggressive from the baseline," Federer said. "I think it worked really well, hardly any unforced errors.

"I was able to move Ivo around and I was able to maintain that throughout the match, which was key. I could focus a bit on returning while then holding serve, which is important against Ivo."

Federer led from the start against Karlovic, making the surprising choice to receive after winning the toss and earning the lone break of the match in the opening game.

''I just felt like, you know, let him go first and see how it goes,'' Federer said. ''It worked well today because I got the early break right away. That relaxed me for the rest of the first set clearly, but still he hung around.''

He said playing Karlovic presents unique challenges that he enjoys.

''Physically it's super easy. There are no long rallies,'' Federer said. ''It's just more like a penalty shootout in soccer.''

The longest point was the last one, and when Karlovic pushed a backhand into the net on the 10th stroke, Federer hopped happily in celebration and threw a fist.

''I'm very relieved and happy to be through,'' he said. Federer missed the tournament a year ago as he rested with back pain.

Date: 21st March 2014, Source: ATP, AFP and AP


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