(Reuters) – Roger Federer rallied from a set down to beat Moldovan surprise package Radu Albot 4-6 7-5 6-3 in a stuttering start to the 20-times Grand Slam champion’s Miami Open campaign on Saturday.
Federer, beaten by Dominic Thiem in last week’s BNP Paribas Open final, smashed 14 aces and broke Albot twice to advance to the third round but it was far from plain sailing for the 37-year-old against the world number 46. After dropping the first set, Federer broke Albot while leading 6-5 in the second with a backhand volley winner. Albot could not convert a break point in the deciding set tied a 3-3, and the Swiss took command from there to wrap up a match that lasted two hours and 10 minutes. Three-times Miami champion Federer finished with 38 winners but had to overcame 41 unforced errors to defeat Albot, who earned an ovation from the crowd for his efforts. Earlier on Saturday, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson made a winning return to competition with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over rising Spaniard Jaume Munar. After more than two months away from the court with an elbow injury, the world number seven smashed 17 aces en route to the second round win over the 21-year-old Munar.
It was Anderson’s first tournament appearance since the Australian Open in January and he said he was happy with the way his elbow felt.
“To get through in three sets, it felt really good to be back out there. I’m happy with how the elbow responded. I feel like I’m hitting the ball great,” the sixth seed added. “It’s always different playing matches than hitting in practice, but I’ve been able to up my load and how much I’m able to serve. That’s really encouraging and that’s why I felt good coming into this week. “I’ve been able to do everything but hit serves recently. I always had the confidence that as soon as I got over that hurdle, I was going to find my form pretty quickly.” Two of Russia’s young prospects, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, were also Saturday winners. The 10th seed Khachanov beat Australian Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-3 while his friend Medvedev, the 13th seed, toppled France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-2 6-1.
Eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas easily beat Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(4) 6-1. In other early action, Belgian David Goffin, the 18th seed, defeated Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-1, while Canadian 20th seed Denis Shapovalov came from a set down to beat Britain’s Dan Evans 4-6 6-1 6-3.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Chadband/Peter Rutherford)