Roger Federer waited out a four-hour rain delay, then triumphed on Monday in an exchange of thundering groundstrokes 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3) over a fired-up Frenchman Florent Serra to reach the fourth round of the Miami Masters.
“I still have to tidy up my game a bit, being one break up in the first set and two breaks up in the second. That’s normally something that doesn’t get away from me,” Federer said.
“I thought he came up with some good stuff, and that made it difficult for me to close it out. That’s why I’m happy to be through.” Rainstorms through early afternoon delayed proceedings, but Federer wasted little time on going through in just under 90 minutes.
He was joined by Mardy Fish, who followed up his elimination of third seed Andy Murray with a victory over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3.
Federer improved to 13-2 on the season in his bid for a third Miami title after 2005 and 2006.
The 61st-ranked Serra refused to give any quarter to the world number one.
The pair exchanged rockets throughout the contest, Federer eventually putting the tough victory away with three breaks of serve and 26 winners.
Serra fought back in both sets from breaks, saving two set points in the eighth game of the first from Federer errors, before the Swiss took the tiebreaker in a sweep. But the Frenchman took little notice as he stormed back to parity from two breaks down in the second set, breaking the top seed in the sixth and 10th games with groundstroke blasts.
Federer managed to finesse his way out of danger in the second decider, claiming victory on his first match point with a forehand winner.
“He definitely pushed me a little bit by playing really aggressive, so I had to come up with some good defensive stuff,” Federer said. “I dug out a few, I think, incredible things, and especially at crucial moments especially in the first set, as well. I was happy with some of the moments I had today.”
Croatian seventh seed Marin Cilic overwhelmed Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-4, and Russian 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny came back against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.
Czech Tomas Berdych will play Federer after beating Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 7-5.
Injured women’s top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 champion, was dumped out by French 13th seed Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-0 in less than an hour, with Kuznetsova losing five of six service games.
Kuznetsova said that not only was she put off by the weather delay, she felt a muscle pull late in the first set.
“At 5-3 I started to serve, and I felt a shoulder muscle pull, but I still kept serving. It was so painful I almost had stars in my eyes. I tried to continue to play, but I should have pulled out. It was my choice to play,” said the Russian, who was seen by the trainer three times during the match.
“It was not my day, but I’m not going to blame it on my shoulder.” Bartoli will next face Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-0, 6-1. Polish sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska ousted Yaroslava Shvedova 6-1, 6-4.