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Federer Saves Match Point Against Lopez

Madrid, Spain

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer served 25 aces on clay for the first time in Madrid Wednesday.

Feliciano Lopez left everything on the court against Roger Federer Wednesday evening at the Mutua Madrid Open, holding match point in the final-set tie-break, but the resilient World No. 3 remained poised, defeating the Spaniard 7-6(13), 6-7(1), 7-6(7) in a thrilling second-round match. "I could have lost, so I'm obviously relieved to have come through this one," Federer said in an on-court interview after winning. "It was a tough match and a nailbiter really from start to finish, so it's nice to play those sorts of matches."

Federer served for the first set at 5-3 but did not close it out, and found himself in an enthralling battle with Lopez for the duration of the match. Each player held multiple set points in the first-set tie-break, but it was Federer who prevailed on his ninth set point. Lopez was spectacular on serve in the second set, winning all 23 first deliveries. It enabled him to coast in the second-set tie-break, forcing a deciding set. It was the first time since the 2007 year-end championships that Federer lost a tie-break 7-1 when he fell to Fernando Gonzalez in a round robin encounter.

In the third set at 3-2, Federer had three break point opportunities, but Lopez wasn't fazed, and it was apparent that the match would be determined by a final-set tie-break. The Spaniard jumped out to a 5-2 lead and looked to be in prime position to seal the victory. However, he missed a routine overhead on the next point, and Federer won three consecutive points to level at 5-5. 

"Maybe that was the key because if not, I would have been up 6-2 and I´d have had the match in my hand but it was a really high ball and I couldn’t see it and with the conditions on the court it wasn’t really clear for me but the ball went three meters out and because I couldn’t see the ball," Lopez said in his post-match press conference.

The Swiss then made a backhand error to give Lopez match point, but the two-time champion in Madrid silenced Lopez and the crowd, firing his 25th ace of the match, and he never looked back. Federer’s 25 aces are the most he’s hit on clay, as well as at any non-Grand Slam event. "I have to say that he played some really good points and he had an ace, so to say that I lost the match on that [one] point is not fair," claimed Lopez.

"Obviously if I had won that point it would have been very complicated for him because I would have had four match points and I think there were other moments. I think that today on the big points, he played really good. I have probably only made one error, that ball we were talking about."

In the third round, Federer faces Xavier Malisse. The Belgian rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 win against Yen-Hsun Lu in 57 minutes earlier in the day.

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After splitting sets with Gilles Simon, Andy Murray swiftly put away the Frenchman in the final set, advancing to the third round with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 victory. Simon had five chances to break the Scot in the deciding set, but failed to convert any of those break point opportunities. ""Well I think I did okay," expressed Murray afterwards.

"Obviously the third set was good; I came through a lot of long games. I thought I served well for most of the match – ground strokes were a bit up and down. I volleyed pretty well when I came in. Different conditions here. I wasn’t timing the ball that well from the back of the court and that’s something that hopefully after getting through a tough one today, I’ll do better tomorrow."

With the win, the World No. 4 notched his second win of the year against Simon, both coming on clay, and increases his head-to-head advantage to a 6-1 record.

Up next for Murray is Thomaz Bellucci, who led Florian Mayer 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-0 before the German retired from their contest with fatigue. "I don’t actually know that much about [Bellucci]. I watch a lot of tennis... I just haven’t seen him play much," Murray confessed. "I know he’s a leftie and he’s got a double-handed backhand. Clay is probably his best surface. Dani [Vallverdu] went to watch his match today against Mayer and will have seen some things there that will help me but I’ve never practised with him or played against him."

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