Roger Federer claimed the first title of the 2012 season in Rotterdam, followed by five others that helped him becoming world no. 1. The 31-year-old Swiss had always been one of the most reliable indoor players on the Tour, reaching the final in nine out of the previous ten tournaments under the roof ahead of 2013 and lifting seven trophies during that stint, hoping for more of the same during Rotterdam title defense.
Instead of that, Roger suffered a convincing 6-3, 7-5 loss to Julien Benneteau in an hour and 21 minutes on February 15, propelling the Frenchman into the semi-final and experiencing the earlier indoor loss since 2009 when Benneteau defeated him in the second round of the Paris Masters!
Julien delivered the better numbers behind the second serve, fending off three out of five break chances and taking almost half of the return points to secure five breaks and hand Federer's 200th ATP loss! Roger struggled to find the rhythm in his games, sprayed too many errors and won only ten out of 30 points on the second serve to finish empty-handed.
Benneteau landed a backhand down the line winner in the first game to grab an early break and gain confidence, landing two winners at 30-30 in the second game to cement the advantage.
Roger Federer suffered the 200th ATP loss in Rotterdam 2013.
The defending champion pulled the break back in the fourth game following the Frenchman's double fault, spraying a forehand error at 3-3 for another poor service game.
Julien opened a 5-3 gap following another wild forehand from the Swiss. Benneteau's backhand worked like a charm, and it helped him deliver another break at 5-3 and secure the opening set in style. Serving at 1-2 in the second set, Roger found himself a set and break down following another mistake.
Benneteau confirmed the lead with two winners in game five, keeping his level high and taking a big step towards the finish line. With no room for mistakes, Roger clinched eight straight points to get back into contention, earning a break at love in game seven and holding at 30 to lock the result at 4-4.
Julien got back on track with a hold at love in game nine before facing two break chances at 5-5. He erased those with powerful hitting and saved the third break point with a service winner to open a 6-5 gap. Serving to stay alive, Roger sprayed a backhand error to give the set and the match to Benneteau, who was the better player on the court on that day.
Thus, the Frenchman secured the second indoor victory over Roger and got revenge for that heartbreaking Wimbledon loss a year ago when he wasted two sets to love advantage.
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