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By Chris Oddo | Saturday March 24, 2018

It was a match to remember for 21-year-old Aussie qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was a match to forget for Roger Federer.

More: Federer Will Skip Clay Season in 2018

Kokkinakis became the lowest-ranked player to defeat a reigning No.1 in 15 years by defeating World No.1 Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), booking his spot in the third round at the Miami Open and sending the draw into disarray.

"To share the court, have such a big win on a big court against the world No. 1, it's pretty crazy," an elated Kokkinakis told reporters after the match. "Pretty happy about it."

Kokkinakis had spent time training with Federer in Dubai, and says the experience might have helped him know Federer's tendencies and know what type of pace to expect from the Swiss.

"Maybe Dubai helped a little bit to know what he likes to do," he said.

Kokkinakis struck 7 aces and saved four of five break points on the day, winning 44 of 57 first-serve points. He was not broken in the second or third sets, saving all three break points he faced in those stanzas.

“It's disappointing,” Federer told reporters after the match. “Don't know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today. Sometimes you have these matches. Sometimes you find a way through. I just couldn't get it done today."

It started innocently enough for Federer, who entered the match with a 17-1 record on the season and a 50-13 lifetime record at Miami. The three-time defending champion broke on his second break point for a 3-1 lead in set one and did not face a break point in the opener. Federer even threw in a behind-the-back volley in the fifth game, proof that he was loose and in command of his vast arsenal on this sunny day at Key Biscayne.

But the tone of the match changed in the second set as Federer began to misfire and Kokkinakis started to impose his powerful baseline game. Kokkinakis notched a critical hold for 1-0 when he saved a break point with a big serve and forehand swing volley combo, and moments later Federer was broken at love when he yanked a down-the-line forehand wide of the tramline to give Kokkinakis the 3-1 lead.

No more break points came Federer’s way and the Aussie sealed the set comfortably with a hold to love.

“In the second set I finally used a couple of loose errors, I started getting in the rallies a bit more and dictating with my forehand, and when I feel like I’m playing on my terms I don’t think there are too many people that can go with me,” Kokkinakis said after the match. “I just need to play my game and play my aggressive tennis and I can do some good things.”

Federer’s game continued to unravel in the third set and he lacked feel from the baseline as Kokkinakis kept finding ways to crack his forehand with depth to force Federer into an unusual level of discomfort on both wings.

Still, Federer took care of his serve with relative ease (he did not face a break point in the first or third sets), but he was met with steely resistance from the Aussie, who saved both break points he faced in the decider to give himself a fighting chance.

Federer had a break point with the Aussie serving at 2-3 but Kokkinakis put him on the run and forced a forehand error with a big down-the-line forehand. The Aussie erased another break point in the same game and continued to find the big shots down the stretch as the pair marched to a third-set breaker.

In the breaker Federer roared back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 but Kokkinakis took five of the final six points to clinch the biggest victory of his career.

Federer has now dropped consecutive matches for the first time since 2014.

"He was just a bit better than me today,” he said. “What exactly that was, I think you probably have to break it down to the key moments. He was a bit more relaxed. I was in search mode the whole match. I never got going."

Kokkinakis has been bogged down by injuries over the last two seasons, but appears to finally be finding good health and form at the same time. The qualifier will face Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

His victory over Federer marks his second career Top 10 victory, and first over a Top 5 opponent.


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