Federer rallies to beat Albot in Miami opener

Roger Federer rallied from a set down to beat Moldovan surprise package Radu Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a stuttering start to the 20-times Grand Slam champion's Miami Open campaign on Saturday.

Federer, beaten by Dominic Thiem in last week's BNP Paribas Open final, smashed 14 aces and broke Albot twice to advance to the third round but it was far from plain sailing for the 37-year-old against the world number 46.

After dropping the first set, Federer broke Albot while leading 6-5 in the second with a backhand volley winner. Albot could not convert a break point in the deciding set tied a 3-3, and the Swiss took command from there to wrap up a match that lasted two hours and 10 minutes.

Three-times Miami champion Federer finished with 38 winners but had to overcame 41 unforced errors to defeat Albot, who earned an ovation from the crowd for his efforts.

"I definitely think Radu played a great match, it was really tough and I struggled early on," admitted Federer.

"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.

"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.

"I am very relieved and happy to make it through. 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."

Federer will next face Serbia's Filip Krajinovic on Monday. Earlier in the day, 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 ATP Head to Head 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.

Date: 24 March 2019, Source: Reuters, AFP and ATP


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