The three-time Miami champion and the 4th seed Roger Federer was tested in the opening match at the second Masters 1000 event of the season, defeating Radu Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes for the 51st triumph at this event and the first at Hard Rock Stadium.
Albot has been in great form this year and demonstrated that against Roger as well, saving six out of eight break points (four of those in the opening service game of the match) and staying on the similar level with a great rival almost all the time.
Roger fired 14 aces and fended off three out of four break points, overcoming the first set deficit and prevailing in the finish of the second to bypass the second straight poor result in Miami after losing to Thanasi Kokkinakis a year ago.
The Swiss finished the match with 38 winners and 41 unforced errors, unable to create the difference in the shortest points up to four strokes and deserving the triumph with the better performance in the mid-range and most extended rallies.
There were worrying signs for Roger's fans in the very first game of the match when he netted a forehand to suffer a break that would determine the winner of the first part of the encounter. Albot was eager to keep the points on his racquet and make Federer run for his money, repelling four break points in game two to confirm the break and gain a lot of confidence before the rest of the clash.
They both served well in the remaining eight games and it was Radu who fired three straight winners at 15-30 in the tenth game to secure the opener in 35 minutes, pushing Roger's backhand to the limits and hitting a lot of service winners to make a big step towards a huge surprise.
Nothing could separate them in the first six games of the second set and Roger fended off a break point with a well-constructed attack in that seventh game, creating a chance of his own in the game that followed. Albot saved it with a serve&forehand combo that already gave him a lot of points and it looked the set will go into a tie break where all the pressure would have been on Roger's side of the net.
Instead of that, the three-time Miami champion found the way to score the first break of the match with a volley winner at 6-5, gaining an enormous boost and extending his chances before the decider where he was the favorite now.
Just like in set number two, Federer had to play against a break point at 3-3, landing an ace to get out of jail and testing Albot's mental strength in the next game. The Moldovan did almost everything right so far but this was the moment that plagued his chances, sending a forehand long to get broken and allowing Roger to move over the finish line with a service winner and a hold at 15 in game nine for the place in the last 32, avoiding the second consecutive second-round Miami loss.