Competing in his first match on blue clay in Madrid 2012, the 3rd seed and a former champion Roger Federer had to work to escape an early exit and advance into the third round, beating Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and 14 minutes.
Milos won four points more than Roger, playing better behind both the first and second serve and creating four times more break chances. The young Canadian had 46 winners and 26 unforced errors, having the upper hand on the court but converting only one out of eight break chances, falling in the deciding tie break to propel Federer through despite facing only two break chances in the entire encounter.
There was nothing to separate two great servers on fast and slippery clay in the opening eight games, locking the result at 4-4 after just 24 minutes and offering no chances to the returners. That all changed in the ninth game when Federer sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break at love, sending Milos 5-4 in front and allowing the Canadian to hold at love for a 6-4 after 31 minutes.
Facing an ultimate challenge in the first game of the second set, Roger repelled three break chances with service winners, serving better until the 11th game when he fended off a break point to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard.
That gave the Swiss the momentum he needed, landing a perfect drop shot in the next game to convert a break chance and steal the set 7-5. Milos wasted his opportunity on the return at 2-2 in the decider, with two more break points up for grabs two games later.
Staying calm, Federer erased those with winners and kept his service games safe until the tie break where Milos sprayed a massive forehand error at 4-5, offering Roger two break chances and witnessing a return winner from the Swiss that carried the legend through.