Roger Federer held off a streaky Tomas Berdych on Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, saving two match points to reach the semi-finals 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6).
“I’ve had some tough losses here where I should have won, like against Tomas a few years ago and also against Nishikori, and they stay with you. I’m happy to come have through today,” Federer told ESPN after the match. “I definitely got very lucky at the end, but I think I showed great heart today. I fought and Tomas definitely started to step it up, but it was a great match at the end.”
Federer hadn't saved a match point en route to victory since erasing three in coming back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic in the 2016 Wimbledon quarter-finals. The Swiss maestro moves to 17-1 in 2017, his best start to a season since 2006, and has now won seven straight tie-breaks. Federer is through to his seventh semi-final in Miami and first since 2011.
The fifth seed will play the winner of the evening quarter-final between 16th seed Alexander Zverev and 12th seed Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios leads the FedEx ATPHead2Head with Federer 1-0, prevailing on the clay courts of Madrid in 2015 in a third-set tie-break. Federer is even in his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Zverev at 1-1. Both matches took place last year, with Federer prevailing on clay in Rome and Zverev scoring an upset on grass in Halle.
“Kyrgios and Zverev are very exciting players, two of the most exciting players we have on tour now,” Federer told to the Miami crowd. “You all should tune in if you’re not in the stadium."
Coming into the quarter-finals, Berdych had dropped serve just once in the tournament. But, putting just one of six first serves into play, the Czech was broken in the opening game of the match. In contrast, Federer fought off a break point in the second game. He held serve throughout and broke Berdych again at 4-2 to put the set beyond doubt.
Berdych regrouped in the second set and took advantage of a loose Federer service game to go ahead 5-3 and soon after snapped his streak of 15 lost sets to Federer to take the match to a decider.
Little separated both players in the early stages of the third set, but a pair of forehand errors from Berdych gifted Federer a break to lead 4-2. The fifth seed was shockingly broken at love attempting to serve out the match at 5-3 and couldn't convert on a match point at 5-4 after Berdych erased it with a gutsy 120mph second serve down the T to Federer's forehand.
Federer trailed 4/6 in the third-set tie-break, but Berdych missed his opportunities with a backhand unforced error and a forehand into the net. A double fault from Berdych at 6/7 wrapped up the match after one hour and 57 minutes. Federer improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Berdych to 18-6 and has won their past seven matches.
“Don’t mess up, hit a few aces, stay aggressive on the return…those silly things you tell yourself that never work,” joked Federer on what he was telling himself during the tie-break. “But they seem to be working now. I enjoy winning breakers because those are the ones that are going to make you win a tournament sometimes.”
Federer has not tasted success in Miami since 2006, when he completed the Indian Wells-Miami title double for the second consecutive year.
I believe that's called winning by the skin of your teeth.
No more close calls like this Roger.
Let's go back to how you played against Del Potro please.