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Roger Federer Beats Radu Albot in 3 Sets to Advance at 2019 Miami Masters

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

Roger Federer, of Switzerland, wipes his face during his match against Radu Albot, of Moldova, at the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Roger Federer defeated Radu Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the second round of the 2019 Miami Open on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

With the victory, Federer will meet Filip Krajinovic in the third round. The two have met twice before, with Federer winning on each occasion. They last met at the Swiss Indoors Basel, with Federer requiring three sets to eliminate Krajinovic.

Federer was well below his best. Although he had twice as many winners (38) as Albot (19), he committed 41 unforced errors, compared to 27 for his opponent.

Luckily for Federer, he was nearly untouchable on serve. He racked up 14 aces and allowed just four break-point opportunities over the entire match. He also won 77 percent of his first-service points and 69 percent of his second-service points.

The 37-year-old Swiss had the Miami Gardens crowd behind him as well. Especially down the final stretch, the fans at Hard Rock Stadium weren't shy about showing their partisanship.

"I felt they were pulling for me," the 20-time Grand Slam champion said of the crowd in his post-match interview, per the New York Times' Ben Rothenberg.

As the match entered into the third set, the question was who would blink first on serve at a critical moment. In the first two sets, there were only two total service breaks as neither Federer nor Albot enjoyed much success when having to return.

Federer earned one of the rare breaks to close out the second set.

With a break-point opportunity at 6-5, he took advantage of a second serve to place his return to Albot's backhand. He then pushed Albot out wide with a forehand that got the 29-year-old Moldovan on the defensive. Federer rushed the net and put Albot away with a well-placed backhand volley down the line.

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

Too close for comfort. @rogerfederer squeaks out the second set 7-5 vs Radu Albot #MiamiOpen https://t.co/BBH87JYozD

The third set mirrored the first two, with Federer and Albot exchanging serve over the first seven games. The eighth game proved to be the turning point. Albot quickly fell behind 15-40. At 30-40, he sailed a forehand long to give Federer a 5-3 lead.

After Albot opened the door for him, Federer didn't squander his chance. On match point, Albot couldn't handle a serve to his forehand and set his return well wide.

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

.@rogerfederer wills himself to a tough three set victory over Radu Albot. Federer defeats Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. #MiamiOpen https://t.co/KzlSOoo55u

The phrase "survive and advance" is often used in March in reference to the NCAA tournament. That's exactly what Federer did Saturday.

Albot was a game challenger for Federer, who didn't lose his nerve despite his relatively poor performance. 

Krajinovic did him a favor by upsetting No. 30 Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day, so moving on to the fourth round should be relatively straightforward for Federer.