Two weeks to the day, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios will try again to match-up late in a Masters event. At Indian Wells, the 21-year-old Kyrgios had to withdraw just before facing Federer due to a virus. And they almost didn’t make the rematch.
Federer came into the day as the hottest player on the planet, and early on against Tomas Berdych the Swiss was in charge, breaking Berdych right from the start.
By the time Berdych settled in, Federer had already secured the opening set. But Berdych rebounded in the second and made a match of it, finally breaking Federer at 15 in the eighth game.
Federer, who had won his last six against Berdych, had his set streak of 15 against the 31-year-old come to an end.
Federer found his rhythm on his serving cruising to start the third, then seized a break to go up 4-2, then 5-2. But serving for the match at 5-3, Federer blinked, getting broken at love.
Berdych saved a break chance in his next service game, but held and eventually they’d play a deciding breaker, just like they had in their only other Miami meeting won by Berdych in 2010.
In a topsy-turvy breaker, it was Berdych coming ahead with two match points at 6-4, but almost predictably, he wouldn’t win another point as Federer reeled off four straight and a Berdych double fault put the Swiss back into the Miami semifinals 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6).
“Wow, double fault. Are you kidding me?” Federer said. “You’re too kind, Tomas. Why? Like how do I deserve this one? I don’t feel like I deserved it that much, a double fault at that moment. I guess he was playing on the edge.”
Overall, Federer though he started well.
“I felt really good after the first set. I think then I maybe let Tomas back into the match as well just a bit. Also, he started to play bigger and better. I’m happy I fought hard and somehow got it done today. But the crowds were great,” Federer said.
Berdych falls to 6-18 against Federer and the former finalist hasn’t beaten a Top 5 player in over two years since he stunned Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in 2015.
“He was the one serving out the match; didn’t make it,” Berdych said. “I had a match point, didn’t make it. I had two, I didn’t made it. So what else to say?
“It’s obviously not something that you want to finish the tournament like,” he said. “I got a lesson on the last week, last tournament, so this is going to be fine to get over with.”
In the evening, Nick Kyrgios rode his booming serve to what turned into a tough 3-set win over budding rival Alexander Zvererv 6-4, 6-7(9), 6-3.
Kyrgios let slip three match points during a terrific second set breaker. And in the third, Zverev continued his fight until the German got rattled by a late challenge win by Kyrgios in the first point of the sixth game. Zverev went on to get broken and Kyrgios closed out the match on his sixth match point.
“We’re great friends as well, so I’m always lucky to go out and play against a player like him. It could have gone either way,” Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios, who is into his second straight Miami semifinal, beat Federer in Madrid in 2015 saving match point. So Federer has his sights set on revenge.
Federer is 17-1 on the season and he’s won his last nine matches.
“I love playing against Roger,” Kyrgios said. “He’s my favorite tennis player, so I’m going to enjoy that moment. We don’t really know how long he’s going to be around for, so I’m going to enjoy that moment.”
In the early semifinal, Rafael Nadal takes on surprising Fabio Fognini who is in his first hard court Masters semifinal. Nadal has won seven of 10 meetings but Fognini shocked Rafa in 5 in their last US meeting at the 2015 US Open.
“I know him very well,” Nadal said. “He know me very well. We played couple of times; he beat me couple of times, too. So, yeah, it’s a tough match. He’s playing well, so will be a good tennis for me, too, and a good challenge. Happy to be in the semifinals. I’m excited about play that semifinals match against a player who’s playing very, very well during the whole week.”
Fognini, who’s wife Flavia Pennetta is due in May, says he’s feeling good on the hard courts.
“I feel good. I always tell you that I really love play on this surface,” Fognini said Wednesday. “I think ’14 I play fourth round here, if I remember well; I play fourth round Indian Wells; I play fourth round in Australian Open. In ’15 I play fourth round in US Open beating Rafa in the third round.
“So I always feeling good. Of course this one is the best result of my career at the moment.”
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