The Roger Federer odyssey continued in Miami on Thursday night as he edged a fascinating, see-saw quarter-final against Tomas Berdych. Unquestionably the player of 2017 so far, Federer has now won 17 of his 18 matches this season.
This one could so easily have got away, as he saved two match points in the deciding tie-break before completing his 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 victory. His overall dominance in previous matches with Berdych surely helped here, causing his opponent to tighten up when victory was a single shot away.
A capacity crowd at the Crandon Park stadium was chanting “Let’s go Roger” by this stage, making no bones of their partisan support. And their vociferousness may have further scrambled Berdych’s anxious mind. Facing match point himself at 7-6 in the tie-break, he responded with one of the biggest double-faults you will ever see.
“You guys were making us nervous,” Federer joked to the crowd during the post-match interview with commentator Brad Gilbert. “If we threw in a few double-faults at the end there, it was because of you guys, not because we can’t play tennis.”
When Gilbert came up with an obscure statistic – this, apparently, was the first deciding set that Federer had won here since 2009 – Federer remained in light-hearted mood.
“Thank God you didn’t come out with that midway through the third,” he laughed. “I have had some tough losses here in the past and they stay with you. I am happy today that I came through somehow. I definitely got very lucky at the end, but I think I showed great heart today. I fought. Tomas started to step it up and it was a great match at the end, but one guy had to win.”
Even dropping a set was a rarity for Federer this year. Before this nail-biter, he had won eight consecutive matches in straight sets in Indian Wells and Miami. It almost feels like the clock has been turned back ten years.
There are some extra tricks and skills that Federer has picked up in this latter part of his career, however, including a ferocious backhand drive and a new selection of drop-shots. The extraordinary under-sliced drop-shot he played late in the first set was up there with the strokes of the season so far.
Federer through to the semi-final
Well the stats don't really tell the full story of what was a pulsating encounter. Credit Berdych for his best performance against one of the top players for a very long time, with his backhand up the line a thing to behold.
That said, he'll be absolutely devastated not to have seen it through and missing those two match points, along with double faulting when down match point, could haunt him for some time.
For Federer, it's a ninth win in a row and though he wasn't at his best, he somehow found a way to squeak through. Next up for him is tomorrow's semi-final against either Alex Zverev or Nick Kyrgios, and after that a possible final against Rafael Nadal on Sunday.
Is there any stopping the 18-time grand slam champion?
Game, set and match Federer! He defeats Berdych 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (6)
Oh no! A double fault from Berdych hands the win to Federer, who advances to the semi-final!
Tie break: Federer 7-6 Berdych* - Match point Federer
An ace smack bang on the line means it's Federer who has the match point now. His second of the match.
Tie break: Federer* 6-6 Berdych
Huge serve from Fed is far too hot to handle, and we're level again. Two match points have come and gone for Berdych!
Tie break: Federer* 5-6 Berdych
Berdych can't take it, as he nets a forehand off a solid Federer return!
Tie break: Federer 4-6 Berdych* - Match point Berdych
Briliant backhand winner down the line takes Berdych to match point. That shot has been tremendous today.
Tie break: Federer 4-5 Berdych*
Berdych has the mini-break! Fed sends a forehand long, and the Czech has two points on his serve to take the match.
Tie break: Federer* 4-4 Berdych
A fed ace down the T makes it all square.
Tie break: Federer* 3-4 Berdych
Great readjustment from Berdych to sort out his feet, scamper to the net and flick away a crosscourt forehand winner.
Tie break: Federer 3-3 Berdych*
We're level at the change of ends, as a bullet Berdych forehand draws a backhand that's just long from his opponent.
Tie break: Federer 3-2 Berdych*
At last, a point won by the server, as Fed carves a beautiful ace out wide.
Tie break: Federer* 2-2 Berdych
My word, it's a terrible Fed double fault, and we're back on serve.
Tie break: Federer* 2-1 Berdych
Berd is well wide with a forehand down the line, and Fed now has the mini-break lead. No points won by the server in the tie-break as yet.
Tie break: Federer 1-1 Berdych*
Fed responds with a forehand winner of his own that just tickles the outside edge of the sideline.
Tie break: Federer 0-1 Berdych*
A brilliant Berd forehand winner up the line gets him an immediate mini-break.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 6-6 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Final set tie-break
An ace and a forehand winner make it 30-0 Berdych, before a backhand crosscourt winner gets the Czech to 40-0. Another ace wraps up a love hold, and we're into a final set tie-break.
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 6-5 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
If anyone is tightening up right now, it's the 18-time grand slam champion. Because after a brilliant backhand winner from Berd makes it 15-15, Fed chucks in a double fault for 15-30. His response though is majestic, rocketing two huge first serves down the middle to move up 40-30. Berd then nets a backhand return, and Fed holds on. The Czech will serve to stay in the match for a second time.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 5-5 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Berdych saves a match point and holds
It still wouldn't be a huge surprise now if Fed broke to take the match, and Berd dumps a forehand into the bottom of the net to fall behind 0-15. That was the sort of shot I would hit. Fed returns the favour with a missed forehand to make it 15-15, and a huge Berd serve is too hot to handle for 30-15. A double fault follows though, and it's 30-30, putting Federer to within two points of the win. Make that one point, as Fed swats away an arcing forehand winner that lands plum on the line for 30-40. But that is some response from Berdych! A 120mph second serve draws a forehand error from Fed and we're back to deuce. A huge first serve and a sensational backhand winner follow, and Berdych clings on. Wow, what a few minutes we've had here, so good to see Berdych demonstarting this sort of bravery in big moments. So often in the past we've seen him get tight in the closing stages of the biggest matches (we still might of course).
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 5-4 Berdych* (*denotes next server) - Berdych breaks back
Fed is serving for the match, but it's Berd who takes the first point with a slightly mis-hit forehand return for 0-15. A double fault follows, and all of a sudden it's 0-30. There's no-one better at serving out sets and matches so this would be a huge surprise if Federer was broken. And what have we here?! It's 0-40 and three break points when Berdych leathers a forehand winner. Can the Czech take one of these? Yes, he only needs one as Fed shanks a forehand well wide.
Federer is broken to love serving for the match! Extraordinary.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 5-3 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Berdych now serving to stay in the match, and he takes the first point after Fed attempts another moon-ball drop shot, which is a touch short this time and the Czech can flick away a forehand winner for 15-0. He backs it up with some big serving and holds to 15 to force Federer to serve out the match.
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 5-2 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
Berdych has an immediate sniff of a break back at 15-30 after Fed puts a volley wide, but two unreturned Fed first serves swiftly make it 40-30. Berd then swings and misses with an attempted backhand, and Fed completes the hold.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 4-2 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Fed breaks
It looks for all the world as if Berdych is about to find himself down 0-30, but Federer's sliced backhand is shown by Hawkeye to have drifted just wide, and it's 15-15. The Swiss then bounces back from down 30-15 and slams a forehand return winner to move up 30-40 and earn himself another break point. Again though he can't take it, as he pushes a forehand long off a heavy Berdych serve. Fed is then given a second opportunity when Berdych shanks a forehand wide, and this time he takes it as an off-balance Berd can only stick a forehand into the net.
Federer now just two games away from the semi-final.
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 3-2 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
A comfortable hold in the end to 15 for Federer, but Berdych had a real chance when up 0-15 he missed a sitter of a volley that would have taken him to 0-30. Instead the pressure very quickly moves back his way.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 2-2 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Berdych saves two break points and holds
Suddenly Berdych is moving a little less comfortably, and two forehand errors hand Federer a 0-30 lead. Danger signs here, and even more so when Federer whips a forehand pass beyond his opponent for 15-40 and two break points. But Berdych saves them both, drawing backhand errors on each occasion with two strong first serves. Berd then moves up advantage and looks to have the game sewn up, but he doesn't do enough with a forehand approach shot and Federer brutally punishes him with another crosscourt forehand winner. Ultimately it proves academic though, as the Czech takes the next two points to seal a very important hold. That's the first time in the match he's held serve having faced a break point.
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 2-1 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
Hmm, Berd looks like he's struggling with a heel problem, and he swings pretty carelessly at a few shots in what ends up being a love hold for Federer.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6, 1-1 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Berdych is starting to believe here, and he screams a backhand winner down the line en route to a hold to 15. Really can't remember him playing so well against one of the top guys for a very long time.
Federer 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
Unsurprisingly, Federer dusts himself down from losing that set and holds easily to 15, sealed with a backhand winner up the line.
Losing that set incidentally ends a run of 17 won in a row by Federer since the start of Indian Wells.
Federer* 6-2, 3-6 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Game and second set Berdych!
Federer has won the last 15 sets these two have played each other, but Berdych is just a service game away from ending that run here. Can he hold his nerve?
A backhand error allows Fed to move up 0-15, but a wonderfully crisp volley from Berd makes it 15-15. Fed then nails a forehand winner for 15-30, but he is wide with one on the next point and it's 30-30. A big ace from Berdych down the T follows, and it's set point at 40-30. He's taken it! Federer nets a backhand, and Berdych has the second set!
An hour played, and we're all square. Who saw that coming after the first set?
Federer 6-2, 3-5 Berdych* (*denotes next server) - Berdych breaks and will serve for the set
A painful looking change of ends for Berdych as he recieves treatment on a foot problem, but he's ok to carry on. And he has a chance of a break when a Fed double fault and an excellent backhand take him to 15-30. Federer then sends a forehand long and it's 15-40, two break points for Berdych. The Czech only needs one! Fed sends a forehand long, and he's been broken for the first time all match.
Berd will now serve for the second set.
Federer* 6-2, 3-4 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Berd is in a spot of bother after double faulting to go down 0-15, and then 15-30 when Fed balletically flicks away an off-backhand return winner. The Czech responds strongly to win the next two points, but a sprayed forehand has us at deuce. Berdych does hold though when he shows wonderful touch at the net to knife away a backhand volley winner, followed by a bullet ace down the T. Berdych has been much improved this set.
Federer 6-2, 3-3 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
I keep making noises like 'ah' and 'ooh', and there's another such moment this game and Federer flicks away an off forehand winner for 40-0. In the end an ace down the T wraps up a hold to 30.
I wrote this earlier in the year about Federer's sexiest ever shots - that drop shot from earlier could well be an addition to the list.
Federer* 6-2, 2-3 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Danger signs for the Berdman as he nets a forehand for 30-30, with Federer prowling on the baseline waiting for his moment to pounce. An excellent ace out wide though takes Berdych to 40-30, and he holds when Fed nets a backhand return.
Federer 6-2, 2-2 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
Blink and you'll miss it (which I sort of did as I was watching replays of that drop shot from earlier - the vid below is a great angle of it). Federer rushes through another service game, holding to 15 with no fuss whatsoever, and putting the pressure straight back on his opponent.
Federer* 6-2, 1-2 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Berdyc's Plan B appears to be to just leather the ball even harder. It works well this game though to be fair, as he completes another love hold with some very solid serving.
Federer 6-2, 1-1 Berdych* (*denotes next server) - Fed saves a break point and holds
Berd has a half-chance of a break at 30-30 after a missed Fed backhand and he earns a second break point of the match with an excellent blocked backhand winner. But Federer escapes from danger with some huge forehand hitting, and reels off the next two points to complete the hold.
The way Fed steps up his aggression when down break points is so impressive.
Federer* 6-2, 0-1 Berdych (*denotes next server)
Another ace helps Berd get a crucial hold at the start of the set. Fed's only point of the game was a double fault.
Federer 6-2 Berdych* (*denotes next server) - Game and first set Federer
Berdych has a glimmer of a break at 15-30, but Fed slams the door shut with a couple of big forehands and a second serve ace to complete the hold and seal the set. Wonderful set from Federer - the 17th he has won in a row - that took just 26 minutes.
Federer* 5-2 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Fed breaks
Scorchio! That is an absolutely sensational crosscourt backhand from Federer that tickles the line as it flies into away for a winner. It makes it 15-30, before a forehand winner down the line has Fed up 15-40 and with two break points. And he takes it with a staggeringly well disguised drop shot! Berdych can only laugh ruefully. That was absolutely crazy, the ball looped up into the air as if going long but just died inside the service box. This is exhibition stuff from Federer.
Here's the drop shot of the year right �� https://t.co/ZfJVYM3EnH— Tennis Connected (@TennisConnected) March 30, 2017
Federer 4-2 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
This is a great spectacle, with Federer up at net and Berdych trying to pass him. The Czech has some joy with an excellent forehand passing shot to make it 15-15, but Fed quickly wrestles back the initiative and holds to 15. His movement has been phenomenal again today.
Federer* 3-2 Berdych (*denotes next server)
After dropping his opening service game, Berdych has served like a dream since - showing why he had won 29 out of his 30 service games in Miami coming into this match. He bangs down a couple of aces in this game to wrap up a second love hold in a row and keep the pressure on Federer. Is this the influence of coach Goran Ivanisevic?
Federer 3-1 Berdych* (*denotes next server)
Berdych hits a wonderful backhand pass when down 30-0, but otherwise it's smooth sailing for Federer, who serves and volleys his way to an easy hold. The final point of the game is a delicious half-volley drop shot. Woof.
Federer* 2-1 Berdych (*denotes next server)
A relieved Berdych gets his name on the scoreboard with a love hold. Some big serving and terrific forehand winners do the damage.
Federer 2-0 Berdych* (*denotes next server) - Fed saves a break point and holds
The problem Berdych has is that he's very one-dimensional and if his power is negated, as it tends to be against Federer, he doesn't really have a Plan B.
Plan A works well at the start of the game to rush Federer into a couple of errors for 0-30, but two loose Berd backhand errors have us back at 30-30. Fed then sends a forehand long for 30-40 and break point Berdych, but an ace down the T saves it. The Czech then errs on the next two points, and Federer holds to consolidate the break.
Federer* 1-0 Berdych (*denotes next server) - Fed breaks
Berdych needs to make a good start here, but Fed dominates the first point with a brilliant backhand crosscourt to move up 0-15, before Berdych nets a backhand for 0-30. The Czech then sends a forehand long to hand Fed two break points at 15-40. Fed thinks he's taken the first one but his backhand down the line hits the top of the net. No matter, he takes the second when Berd sprays a forehand long. First blood Federer.
Berdych to serve.
Federer leads the head to head between these two 17-6, and has won the last six meetings. Berdych did however win on the previous occasion the two met in Miami, but that was seven years ago and probably won't prove to be too ominous.
The way Federer is playing it's hard to see anything but a straight sets win for the Swiss, especially after the shellacking he handed out to Berdych at the Australian Open in January.
Federer has won eight matches in a row, all in straight sets, and if he wins today it will be the best start he has ever made to a calendar year.
Berdych has also not dropped a set this tournament and has held serve in all but one of his service games, but this will be a big step up in class today.
Out they come
The players are out on court, and we should be under way shortly.
The ATP ran a poll earlier today on who their readers thought would win this match. The result was a bit of a landslide...
Game, set and match Wozniacki
The Dane gets past an off-colour Pliskova 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the Miami final where she will face either Venus Williams or Johanna Konta.
Next up it's Federer vs Berdych...
Nearly Fed time?
Wozniacki leads Pliskova 4-1 in the final set with a double break.
Hi everyone, the start of Federer v Berdych has been delayed as the Caroline Wozniacki vs Karolina Pliskova match is into a third set. The deciding set is just underway, so could be over within half an hour, after which Federer and Berdych will be on.
We'll let you know as when the Wozniacki vs Pliskova match nears its conclusion.
What is it?
It's the quarter-final clash between Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych at the Miami Open.
When is it?
It's this evening, so Thursday 30 March.
What time does it start?
It is scheduled for an 8pm start.
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports 3 will have live coverage with the programme under way at 6pm. Tonight's other quarter-final between Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev will follow.
What are they saying?
Federer on coming through battle against Roberto Bautista Agut in last round:
"I think coming out of a brutal match and then feeling fit like a fiddle in the morning, it's like when you go clubbing,"
"You know, you don't feel the same when you're older. It's a good example because everybody knows that feeling. Not that I've ever -- you know?"
Federer is 16-1 this year, matching his career-best record at this point in a season.
"Is it the best I've ever played? For me, it's hard to say yes to that question. ... Maybe on the offensive side, overall, I think I'm doing definitely a few things better than I ever have. I do feel that I have improved. The game has evolved, I had to adjust, but overall I do believe I'm probably a better player than I was 10 years ago."
What's the head-to-head?
Federer is 17-6 against Berdych and has won their last six straight meetings. The former world No 1 breezed past Berdych in the third round at the Australian Open in January, winning 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Berdych shouldn't despair. He has beaten Federer before in Miami - albeit seven years ago.
What are the odds?
Federer to win 1/5
Berdych to win 7/2
What's our prediction?
Federer had to dig deep for his 7-6, 7-6 win over Roberto Bautista Agut in the last round. The Swiss squandered eight of 10 break points against the Spaniard before steering his way through with a couple of nervy tie-breaks.
We expect an efficient and composed performance tonight from Federer and a straight sets win to boot.