Pablo Andujar defeated top seed Roger Federer in an epic three match set and almost two-hour battle, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
The Spaniard looked sharp and focused from the first point, trying to dictate play on his preferred surface. On the other side of the net, Federer was playing his first clay court match and tournament of the season. From the beginning the Swiss seemed to be struggling for pace and depth in his shots and was constantly being put in a defensive position. Federer later began to move well and finally broke the restraints 46 minutes into the match with his first serve break. In the second set, he only dropped four service points and then posed a threat to Andujar’s serve before a tense finish. The No 1 seed’s serve wasn’t up to par, or at least to his normal average, where his first serve percentage was only 59%.
The third set featured some intense tennis in the first few games, with Federer gaining the upper hand and breaking the Spaniard’s serve to take a 4-2 lead in the final set. The match appeared to be coming to an end at that point, but Andujar wasn’t ready to throw the towel just yet, breaking back in the next game with a huge cross court forehand winner to tie the match up once more.
“I was trying to keep the gap between the games small, trying to have faith that he was going to serve a little bit with second serves and at that moment I hoped I would have the chance to break him,” Andujar said. “For me it was very difficult, I couldn’t see his serve and he was serving pretty well, so it was difficult for me to return. I just got the chance at 4-3 when he didn’t serve with first serves and lucky me, I was able to break him.”
Andujar found his chance in the ninth game, setting himself up for a match point after a couple of holds. Federer wasn’t ready to give up yet, fending off the first match point but failing to prevent Andujar from getting another chance. The Spaniard hit a heavy forehand right in the middle of the court causing an error from Federer’s racket earning him his biggest career victory and also ending Federer’s 32-match winning streak on home soil.
“As [far as wins, this is] number one for sure,” Andujar said. “To win a tournament could be more emotional, but this is something I think I will remember my whole life.”
Andujar’s next opponent could be Dominic Stephan Stricker of Switzerland. It will be a difficult match for Andujar, but with the confidence he’s gained from Tuesday’s match, he has a good chance of going far in the tournament and pulling off what Nikoloz Basilashvili did after defeating Federer in Doha, which was to win the tournament.
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