What had been an impressive start of the season for Roger Federer in 2017 got better after he prevailed over Tomas Berdych 6-2, 3-6, 7-6, winning 17 out of 18 matches that season and advancing into the Miami last four for the first time in six years!
It was their 24th meeting and the 18th win for Roger, also the seventh in a row. For the first time since Dubai 2014, Tomas claimed a set against the great rival, but just like many times before, he crumbled under pressure, losing the final set tie break after squandering two match points at 6-4.
The encounter lasted an hour and 57 minutes (the last time they played a third set tie break was in Canada 2010), and almost nothing could separate two rivals, as a result suggests. Tomas won two points more than Roger, but he just failed to close the encounter on one of those match points he earned.
Roger was more efficient behind the second serve, while Tomas played better on the first, saving many break chances with service winners. The Swiss star had eight break opportunities, converting three to find himself in an excellent position to seal the win in the final set's ninth game and avoid the further struggle.
Nonetheless, Tomas bounced back to push his opponent to the limits, failing to find that last stroke that could have sent him to the winning side. Both players had 37 winners (Tomas was excellent from both wings, Roger mainly from his forehand side), but the Czech made five errors more, 27 to Roger's 22.
Berdych had a slim advantage in the shortest points, and Federer responded by playing a bit better in those more extended exchanges to deliver a match to remember.
In 2017, Roger Federer saved match points against Tomas Berdych to enter the semis.
Roger made a strong statement right from the start, breaking in the match's opening game thanks to some crafty defense and Tomas' forehand mistake.
Federer saved a break point in the next game with an ace and had no difficulties in the next three service games to bring the opener safely home. He broke Berdych again in game seven with an unreal backhand slice drop shot that left Tomas with no answer and clinched the set after only 26 minutes with an ace in the next one.
The 10th seed and a former finalist raised his level in set number two to keep his serve untroubled, stealing Roger's serve at 4-3 when the Swiss hit a forehand long. Berdych claimed the set in the next game after a great last point, setting an interesting decider after just 59 minutes of play.
The final set saw the ultimate drama, despite an excellent position for Roger to seal the deal earlier. The Swiss pushed hard on the return and grabbed a break in game six for a 4-2 advantage, serving for the triumph at 5-3.
Out of a sudden, Tomas pulled the break back at love to extend the match and his chances. The Czech made another strong push in game ten, saving a match point behind the initial shot to lock the result at 5-5 and reach a tie break.
They opened it with four mini-breaks before Tomas got another to move 5-4 in front. Berdych won the next point on serve for a 6-4 lead and two match points, wasting the first one when his forehand found the net. Roger fended off the second with a precious service winner and leveled the score at 6-6, becoming the favorite to turn the scoreboard.
Ace number 11 sent Roger 7-6 in front, with his second match point up for grab. Tomas hit a double fault for a heartbreaking loss and a real anticlimax of what was a pretty solid two hours of tennis on Miami Centre court.