Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal remained on a collision course for the Miami Open final when they won their respective fourth-round affairs on Tuesday. Neither player dropped a set, but it also wasn’t easy. Federer battled past Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 7-6(4) after Nadal held off Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6(4).
Although Federer surprisingly donated serve once both sets against Bautista Agut, he came up clutch in each tiebreaker.
“I felt good overall,” the reigning Australian Open and Indian Wells champion assured. “It was a different kind of match. It wasn’t the big-serving match where you’re only going to see so many looks (at break points). So when you miss chances, you always feel a bit frustrated sometimes. That’s where you [have] to keep a positive mindset and make the right plays.
“I thought Roberto did a good job of making shots, staying offensive when he could, (and) fending off a lot of good shots that I hit. I’m very happy and pleased that I got it done in straight sets.”
Federer-Bautista Agut rally:
Nadal also sealed the deal in straights, defeating Mahut in a match that featured a grand total of one break point. The 14-time Grand Slam winner capitalized on it at 4-4, 30-40 in the first set before serving out the opener in routine fashion.
Dominance on serve continued throughout the second frame of play, with only one game going to deuce. Mahut survived that situation at 5-5 but the 35-year-old Frenchman lost three service points in the tiebreaker. Nadal eventually converted his second match point at 6-4 thanks to a forehand winner.
“I think (it) is a good start of the year for both of us,” the the sixth-ranked Spaniard answered when asked about his start to the season along with Federer’s. “Obviously a little bit better for him.
“But at the same time, I am happy the way that I am playing–happy the way that I started the year after a tough second part of the year last year with injuries. So I think it’s positive for both of us that we can still be around here and be very competitive almost every week we’re playing.”