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Federer Struggles To Shut Out Serra

Miami, USA

Roger Federer - Sony Ericsson Open - Miami 2010© Getty ImagesRoger Federer is chasing his third Sony Ericsson Open title.

Normally one of the most ruthless ‘closers’ in the game, top seed Roger Federer won on points instead of delivering a knockout blow to Frenchman Florent Serra in the Sony Ericsson Open third round Monday. 

Federer suffered lapses when seemingly in control of both sets. He was broken when serving for the first set at 5-3 and ultimately needed a tie-break to close out the set.  Then, leading 4-1 with a double break in the second, Federer was broken when he was cruising to victory.

He fell behind 0-30 in his next service game but steadied, only to lose his following service game when trying to close out the match at 5-4. Again he was taken to a tie-break, which he won routinely to clinch a 7-6(2), 7-6(3) win.

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The 16-time Grand slam champion and two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion made 29 unforced errors (to 26 winners) and put just 59 percent of first serves into play.

The last time Federer won a match in two tie-breaks was in Basel 2008, when he defeated Jarkko Nieminen. Although disappointed to not close out each set sooner, the 2005-2006 Sony Ericsson Open champion paid tribute to Serra for his resilience.

“Sure, I still have to tidy up my game a bit, having had one break up in the first and two breaks up in the second; it's normally something that doesn't get away from me. But I thought he came up with some good stuff, and that made it difficult for me to close it out… I don't think I gave it to him. I think he went to get it, which is a big difference.

“The most important [thing] is to come through the rounds. So I don't have a preference how it's done. I always like to come out with confidence, that's for sure.  So it's nice to having won two breakers, because that doesn't happen every match you play.”

For a place in the quarter-finals Federer 16th-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, who defeated fast-rising Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-4, 7-5.

Seventh seed Marin Cilic claimed his 20th match win of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who had defeated Roger Federer two weeks ago in Indian Wells. Both players dropped just four points on their first serve and little separated them from the ground, but the Croatian did not offer up a break point and converted the two opportunities he had on Baghdatis’ serve.

American Mardy Fish set up a fourth-round meeting with Russian Mikhail Youzhny after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.  Fish saved both break points he faced and has dropped serve just twice in three matches.

Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling needed just 65 minutes to defeat German Philipp Petzschner 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round, where he will play the winner of Fernando Gonzalez and Juan Monaco.

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