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Federer Evades Serra, Cilic and Soderling Sail Into the Round of 16

Following a complicated initial match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Roger Federer was again rattled in his third round match.  The world number one was seriously pressed by Florent Serra.  Still, Federer came away unscathed with a 7-6,7-6 win.

Subsequent to neither competitor having issues on serve, Serra had a double fault on game point.  Federer took the next two points to break.  Then, with a love service game, Federer consolidated for a 5-2 lead.  However, as Federer served for the first set at 5-3, he made two costly errors allowing Serra two chances to break.  With a forehand down the line return winner, Serra put the first set back on serve. Still, Federer arrived at double set point on Serra’s service.  But, the Frenchman did not cave in.  With the two men holding at love the next two games, a tiebreaker was initiated.  With Federer’s backhand down the line pass landing out of bounds, Serra opened with a mini-break.  Then, with a forehand down the line winner of his own and with Serra flubbing an overhead, Federer got a mini-break for 2-1.  Federer went on to comfortably carry the breaker.

In the second set,  by enticing errors from Serra, Federer obtained a double break lead for 4-1.  Yet, Serra climbed back.  With a backhand overhead winner and a forehand down the line winner, Serra decreased the deficit to 4-2.  Then, Serra survived double break point to stay in touch at 3-4.  With Federer serving for the match at 5-4, a double fault gave Serra double break point.  The Frenchman converted with a forehand up the line winner.  Eventually, a second tiebreaker was called upon.  Again, after Serra got the early mini-break, Federer rebounded to easily capture the second set.

In the post match interview, Federer responded as such to the questions from
Q.  Do you have a preference. . . A match like this [where] you are tested . . . as opposed to having a quick match in the earlier rounds?
FEDERER:  Well, I mean, most important is to come through the rounds, you know.  So I don’t have a preference how it’s done.  I always like to come out with confidence, that’s for sure.  So it’s nice . . . having won two breakers, because that doesn’t happen every match you play.  Sure, I still have to tidy up my game a bit, you know, having had one break up in the first and two breaks up in the second, it’s normally something that doesn’t get away from me. But I thought he came up with some good stuff, and that made it difficult for me, you know, to close it out. That’s why I’m happy to still be through.

Q.  Were you surprised being down a double break that he was still mentally pretty strong and still fighting?
FEDERER:  Well. . . I didn’t have the feeling he was playing the score too much.  He was just playing his style, which is aggressive, you know, taking chances.  Sometimes missing by many feet.  Sometimes, you know, hitting it right in the corners.  So I knew that was going to happen kind of thing, but it’s still impressive to see when it does happen against you.  You know, that he hits the spots three, four, five, six points in a row, and there’s not much you can do sometimes.  I wish I would have maybe served better, you know, at the crucial stages of the match, which I wasn’t able to do.  But then he took advantage of that and was able to come up with some amazing stuff. Then you can only hope that, you know, he’s going to cool off again and that . . . you’re going to get your act together so you don’t allow him maybe to play that way.

In the round of 16, Federer faces Tomas Berdych who defeated Hector Zeballos in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

Marin Cilic probably thought that Marcos Baghdatis was going to be a difficult out.  Yet, the 7th seed had a smooth entrance into the next stage with a 6-3,6-4 victory. In contrast, Fernando Verdasco, Cilic’s subsequent opponent, required a second set tiebreaker to prolong the match.  In the end, Verdasco vanquished Jurgen Melzer 3-6,7-6,6-1.

Mardy Fish is for the first time in the last 16 in Miami.  On the heels of his spectacular triumph over Andy Murray, Fish eliminated Feliciano Lopez 7-5,6-3. Fish will clash with Mikhail Youzhny next.   After seeing the first set blow, Youzhny regrouped to prevail 1-6,7-6,7-5 over Stanislas Wawrinka.

The 5th seed Robin Soderling sprinted through his third round match with Phillip Petzschner.  Soderling beat Petzschner 6-1,6-2.  Fernando Gonzalez was the ultimate one to join the round of 16.  After losing the first set in a tiebreaker, Gonzalez ended up grabbing the last two over Juan Monaco 6-7,6-4,6-2.  Gonzalez and Soderling will duke it out for a quarterfinal spot.

Of note, doubles top seed Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor were ousted in the second round by Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro in three sets.

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