KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 25: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates match point against Frances Tiafoe during day 6 of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 25, 2017 in Key Biscayne, Florida. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP PHOTO: AL BELLO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Roger Federer survived a brave challenge from American qualifier Frances Tiafoe before emerging with a 7-6 (7/2) 6-3 victory as he got his Miami Open title bid underway on Saturday.
Tiafoe, ranked 101st in the world, struggled against Federer’s serve but was strong on his own and forced a first set tie-break in which the Swiss came out on top.
The 19-year-old son of immigrants from Sierra Leone then broke Federer’s serve in the first game of the second set only for the 18-times Grand Slam winner to break back twice and run out a comfortable winner in the end.
Federer is in fine form having clinched the Australian Open and Indian Wells so far this year and extended his record to 14-1.
The 35-year-old is looking for his third Miami title following wins in 2005 and 2006.
Reigning US Open champion Stan Wawrinka got off to a solid start, beating Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4 at Crandon Park on Saturday.
In the absence of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the top two ranked players in the world, Wawrinka is the number one seed and is fired up after reaching the final at Indian Wells last week, where he was beaten by Federer.
“I’m playing better tennis. I feel that I’m playing good here. I took the confidence from Indian Wells. So let’s see… When I’m playing well, when I am confident with my game, I know I can beat anybody,” said Wawrinka, who turns 32 on Tuesday.
“It has been quite tough conditions these last few days here. Raining, really windy today. It’s really windy on the court, so it’s never easy.
“I’m happy the way I was moving, the way I was playing, and my attitude in general was really positive,” added Wawrinka, who next faces Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 winner over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.