Competing in the Spanish capital for the first time in four years, world no. 3 and three-time Madrid Masters champion Roger Federer reached the quarter-final at Caja Magica in 2019. Roger faced Gael Monfils in the third round and scored a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 triumph in two hours after fending off two match points in the decider's 12th game.
Federer overcame a slow start in the final set and stayed calm on those match points to earn his tenth victory over Monfils from 14 encounters. Roger won 19 points more than his rival thanks to the opening set but still walked on the edge of defeat in the decisive moments.
He did everything right in the opening set and worked much harder in the remaining two to advance in his first clay-court tournament since Rome 2016. The Swiss delivered 33 winners and 25 unforced errors. He dominated the shortest and mid-range rallies to forge the victory and set another entertaining clash against Dominic Thiem.
Federer produced fury in the opening set, losing nine points and fending off both break chances to keep the pressure on the other side. Gael never looked like a dangerous rival in those moments, taking five points on serve and finding himself 6-0 down after humiliating 18 minutes!
Roger grabbed a break in the first game when Gael hit a backhand long and repelled those two break chances in the next one to confirm the break and cement the lead. The Swiss broke at 15 to forge a 3-0 advantage after the Frenchman's volley error and moved 4-0 up with a service winner.
Pushing strong, Roger scored his third straight break after Gael's backhand error and landed three service winners for 6-0, looking good to seal the deal in no time.
Roger Federer saved two match points against Gael Monfils in Madrid 2019.
Suddenly, Monfils found his range at the beginning of the second set.
He produced a much-needed hold in the first game and broke Roger at 15 with a forehand winner in the next one to move ahead for the first time. Federer broke back in game seven after the Frenchman's double fault and had another break opportunity at 4-4 that could have secured the triumph for him.
Keeping his focus, Monfils erased it with a volley winner and made another push on the return in game ten. He seized a crucial break for 6-4 after a loose forehand from the Swiss to introduce a decider. Carried by this momentum, Gael broke in the final set's second game and saved a break point a few minutes later to race into a 3-0 lead and increase his chances of toppling a great rival.
Roger offered a bit of his old magic to pull the break back with a backhand slice return winner. The Swiss played well in those moments and created another break opportunity at 5-5. Gael saved it and brought the game home with two excellent points, staying ahead and sending the pressure back to the other side.
Federer felt it big time and faced two match points on his serve at 5-6. The Swiss saved them with well-constructed attacks and sent the encounter into a deciding tie break. Roger had the upper hand and clinched it 7-2 after a service winner, sealing the deal and securing a place in the quarter-final.
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