ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Roger Federer saves two MP’s against Gael Monfils

World no. 3 and three-time Madrid champion Roger Federer reached the quarter-final at Caja Magica in 2019 thanks to a thrilling 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 triumph over Gael Monfils in two hours, erasing two match points in the decider’s 12th game. It was the 376th Masters 1000 win for Roger and the tenth in 14 clashes against Gael, overcoming a slow start of the final set and standing strong on those match points to cross the finish line first in his first ATP tournament on clay since Rome 2016! Roger won almost 20 points more than his rival but still walked on the edge of defeat in the decisive moments, doing everything right in the opening set and working much harder in the remaining two to move over the top. The Swiss delivered 33 winners and 25 unforced errors, dominating the shortest and mid-range rallies to forge the victory and set another entertaining clash against Dominic Thiem. Federer produced fury in the opening set, losing nine points in total and fending off both break chances to keep the pressure on the other side of the net.

Gael never looked like a dangerous rival in those moments, taking five points on serve and finding himself 6-0 down after humiliating 18 minutes. Roger grabbed a break in the first game when Gael hit a backhand long and repelled those two break chances in the next one to confirm the break and cement the lead. The Swiss broke at 15 to forge a 3-0 advantage after the Frenchman’s volley error and moved 4-0 up with a service winner. Pushing strong, Federer scored the third straight break after Gael’s backhand error and landed three service winners for 6-0, looking good to seal the deal in no time and advance into the next round.

Roger Federer saved two match points against Gael Monfils in Madrid 2019.

Out of a sudden, Monfils found his range at the beginning of the second set, producing a much-needed hold in the first game and breaking Roger at 15 with a forehand winner to move ahead for the first time. Federer broke back in game seven after the Frenchman’s double fault and had another break opportunity at 4-4 that could have secured the triumph for him.

Keeping his focus on a high level, Monfils erased it with a volley winner and made another push on the return in game ten when he seized a crucial break for 6-4 after a loose forehand from the Swiss. Carried by this momentum, Gael broke in the decider’s second game and saved a break point a few minutes later to race into a 3-0 lead and increase his chances of toppling a great rival. Roger presented some of his old magic to pull the break back with a backhand slice return winner, creating another break opportunity at 5-5. Gael saved it and brought the game home with two excellent points, staying ahead and sending the pressure back to the other side. Federer felt it big time, saving two match points with well-constructed attacks to send the encounter into a deciding tie break that he won 7-2 after a service winner, sealing the deal and securing a place in the quarters.

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