Federer Overcomes Albot In Miami Opener, Ferrer Foils Zverev; Djokovic Returns

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Three-time champion Roger Federer was made to work hard in his opener in Miami on Saturday. The Swiss was broken immediately by unheralded qualifier Radu Albot who hung on take the opening set in front of a stunned Hard Rock crowd.

A year ago it was Thanasi Kokkinakis stunning Federer, could it happen again?

Federer, who missed on break chances in the first, blew further chances mid-way in the second, but finally got through as Albot tried to force the breaker.

In the third, Albot had his chances to grab a break but it was Federer who was able to convert and close it out 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours, 10 minutes.

“I expected a player with a great attitude, which he showed,” Federer said. “An aggressive baseliner, who moves well. He’s not afraid to come to the net. The problem is I’ve never practiced with him. I’ve never really seen him play live matches.

“I thought it was hard. I have a lot of respect for those types of players who don’t have the size, have to find a different way to win. He’s a great, great player. I was impressed.”

Federer was projected to meet friend and countryman Stan Wawrinka on Monday, but Wawrinka was upset as the day began by Filip Krajinovic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5). The Serb won five of the last six points of the match to upset the 30th seed.

In the evening match, former finalist David Ferrer kept his farewell Miami afloat stunning No. 2 seed and 2018 runner-up Alexander Zverev 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“It means a lot,” said Ferrer who lost to Zverev in this round a year ago. “It’s a special day because it’s the last year of professional tennis for me. Winning these type of matches against a Top 10 player like Sascha is a gift. I’m very happy and I’m trying to enjoy every point and every moment.

“My motivation is playing at a high level and be competitive. It’s my goal. I can’t play at my best level anymore, but I want to have good energy and play my best in every match.”

The German has now dropped three of his last four matches.

Ferrer will now meet American youngster Frances Tiafoe who beat Miomir Kecmanovic.

Also advancing were Kevin Anderson, Grigor Dimitrov, Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev.

Qualifier Andrey Rublev ousted Marin Cilic and Jordan Thompson scored a big upset win over Karen Khachanov.

On tap Sunday, the third round begins with Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic and defending champion John Isner all scheduled.