SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Berdych Saves Match Point To Upset Federer
Czech Tomas Berdych saved a match point in a pulsating third-set tie-break to snap an eight-match losing streak against Roger Federer and send the top seed crashing out of the Sony Ericsson Open Tuesday night.
In a riveting 2 hr., 51 min. contest that finished at 12.15 a.m. a record Tuesday night session crowd of 12,804 fans frequently broke into a chorus of ‘Roger, Roger’ to cheer on Federer, who had been within two points of defeat in the second set.
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But, just as he had lost in a third-set tie-break after holding three match points against Marcos Baghdatis in his last outing in Indian Wells, the support of fans was not enough to spare Federer the same fate in Miami.
Federer had the match on his racquet at 6-5 in the deciding tie-break, but Berdych responded with two massive forehands – the shot that had troubled the Swiss all night – to set up his first match point, which he converted when Federer hit his 61st and final unforced error, sending a forehand long.
Playing Federer for the first time since he let slip a two-set lead in the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open, Berdych looked to have again handed a reprieve to the five-time ATP World Tour Champion. Berdych was within two points of victory leading 6-5 15/30 on Federer’s serve late in the second set, but allowed Federer to force a tie-break, in which the Czech made four unforced forehand errors.
But Berdych quickly atoned, breaking for a 2-1 lead in the third with a cracking, deep, flat forehand. But he handed back the break with a double fault when serving at 4-3 and soon after had to dig out of a 0/30 hole at 4-5 when two points from defeat.
Berdych claimed just his second win in 10 meetings with Federer, and first since he stunned the Swiss in the second round of the 2004 Athens Olympics, early into Federer’s reign at No. 1.
The Czech will next face 10th-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who posted a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over No. 7 seed Marin Cilic. The pair also faced off last week in Indian Wells, with Berdych emphatically dismissing Verdasco with the loss of just three games. They have split their previous six meetings.
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Berdych said that he knew Federer would keep coming at him in the third set when he was a break up. “The last match before this one we played in Australia I was two sets up... he came strongly back and won that match, and he deserved it and played well. This one was another chance. I was trying to just go for it same as the match in Melbourne, and finally it happened. I think it was the our 10th match against each other; second victory for me."
Berdych was obviously delighted with the win, but was quick to point out that his mission this week is still far from complete. “It’s a great feeling to beat the No. 1 player in the world, the best player so far. But still, it was not a final. There is another match waiting next day, another really tough opponent. I need to take all the positive things, all the confidence from this match take it into the next match. “
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Federer said that he was disappointed to lose after fighting his way back into the match, but added that he had not been entirely happy with his game during the hard court swing. “I had tons of chances at the end. Match point was my serve, I mean, what more can I do? I tried everything I could. It's just not happening for me at the moment.
“Look, it's no secret I've struggled the last, what is it, five matches I've played here in the States. It's disappointing, I think, my performance overall, if I've got to analyze right now after the match.
“But I fought as much as I could under the circumstances with my game having issues at the moment. Definitely lack timing. I don't know where that comes from because I played so nicely in Australia. So it's disappointing to not be able to back it up."
Federer will now turn his attention to the clay court season and, ultimately the defense of his Roland Garros crown.
“[This loss] only fuels my desire to go back to the practice courts and come back even stronger. I don't like to lose these type of the matches. I'm looking forward to the clay court season now. It helps to kind of move on to a different surface. Definitely need to practice harder, and that's what I'll do."
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