Day 6 Recap: Federer Outlasts Albot, Hsieh Upsets Osaka

DAY 6 RECAP: FEDERER OUTLASTS ALBOT, HSIEH UPSETS OSAKA

By Tucker Verdi

Miami Gardens, FL — For the second year in a row, Roger Federer, fresh off a thrilling and exhausting final in Indian Wells that saw him leave empty-handed, took to the court for his opening match of the Miami Open presented by Itaú.

After a three-set loss to Juan Martin Del Potro in the 2018 BNP Paribas Open final in which he held and surrendered three championship points, Federer fell to Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round of the 2018 Miami Open.

Down a set and struggling to find a rhythm on Saturday against qualifier Radu Albot, who claimed his first ATP title in Delray Beach earlier this year, history looked as if it was about to repeat itself.

“I felt like I was in two minds, how you play sometimes in a first round,” the 37-year-old explained after the match. “In the heat of the moment, I started forgetting stuff also that my coach told me. I felt like all the important points, points that could have led to something interesting for me, I played poorly because I was in two minds.”

But deep inside any mind of a champion lies that gear that — even when defeat seems likely, carves a path for victory. Men’s tennis knows no greater champion than Roger Federer. Despite the ferocity with which his Moldovan opponent covered the court and pushed the former World No. 1 and 4th seed here, Federer outlasted the 29-year-old for the victory, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“I was impressed,” the Swiss superstar said of his 5’9” opponent. “I have a lot of respect for those type 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.”

While Federer was able to dig deep and emerge victorious, the same can’t be said for World No. 1 Naomi Osaka. The reigning US and Australian Open champion was ousted by No. 27 seed Hsieh Su-wei, who prevailed 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match playing her,” Osaka said following her loss. “She was hitting down the line on balls when I was sure she would go cross-court… I definitely thought she was being unpredictable.”

The first Asian in history to be ranked No. 1, the 21-year-old had a streak of 63 matches won when claiming the first set broken against her 33-year-old opponent. As a result of the loss, she might squander the top ranking in the world if a number of contenders perform well enough in the second week.

One of those contenders — No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova, overcame a challenging opponent who had beaten her earlier in the year in No. 26 seed Donna Vekic. The 2011 and 2014 WImbledon champion won, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, with her dominant left-handed forehand being the difference. The 29-year-old must reach the final of the Miami Open to be ranked No. 1, which would be a career-high ranking for the Czech.

Another contender, No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber, was taken down by wild card Bianca Andreescu, who won 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in a rematch of their Indian Wells final last week. Read more about that here.

On the men’s side, No. 6 seed Kevin Anderson defeated Jaume Munar 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 despite calling a medical timeout and having a trainer attend to him for several minutes in the second set. No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also advanced, ending the run of Lucky Loser Mackenzie McDonald by defeating him 7-6(4), 6-1 to reach the third round.

Three players seed in the top 10 were knocked out the draw, however. No. 9 Marin Cilic and No. 10 Karen Khachanov fell to Andrey Rublev — a qualifier, and Jordan Thompson, respectively. No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev was also bound, and you can read more about David Ferrer’s come-from-behind win over the World No. 3 player here.

On the women’s side, No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens turned the tables on Viktoria Kuzmova to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. No. 12 seed Ashleigh Barty dominated countrywoman Sam Stosur for a 6-0, 6-3 victory while No. 13 Caroline Wozniacki downed qualifier Monica Niculescu 6-4, 7-6(4).

Additionally, eight-time champion in Miami, Serena Williams, was forced to withdraw with a previously unreported left knee injury. Her opponent — No. 18 seed Wang Qiang, moves into the fourth round by walkover.

See the full list of results here.