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Federer rallies to beat Istomin at Swiss Indoors

October 23, 2013

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Roger Federer came from behind to beat Denis Istomin 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the Swiss Indoors on Wednesday.

Federer conceded a set for the first time in five matches against the 48th-ranked Uzbek, and then had to rally from 0-40 down in his first service game in the decider.

The seventh-ranked Swiss converted his first match point with a delightful backhand volley, but is still looking for his best tennis and a strong finish to the most difficult season of his career.

Earlier, Federer’s chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month improved when Richard Gasquet was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra in a first-round match.

Also Wednesday, top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina eased past Swiss wild card Henri Laaksonen, 6-4, 6-4.

Seeded players continued to tumble with the fifth-seeded Gasquet followed by No. 6 Kei Nishikori of Japan, who lost 6-1, 6-2 against Ivan Dodig of Croatia.

Eighth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 and the Bulgarian is on course to meet Federer in the quarterfinals Friday.

Federer’s struggles with back injuries and unheralded opponents since March have meant he still has not secured a place in the eight-man London lineup next month.

Gasquet’s defeat, after Stanislas Wawrinka’s first-round exit Tuesday, strengthened Federer’s hold on the sixth qualifying position in the points race before he played Istomin.

Still, home fans were silenced when Istomin broke Federer’s serve in the fifth game before serving out the set.

Federer needed a single break, in the sixth game, to level the match though appeared to show unease by asking the chair umpire to reject balls he thought were too soft for play.

In the first game of the deciding set, Federer let two break point chances slip as Istomin escaped trouble with big serves.

After saving four break points in his Federer saved four break points in next game and held despite his forehand again proving unreliable.

Federer eventually led when he broke for a 2-1 advantage with a powerful forehand winner approaching the net, and reeled off four more games for victory.

In other matches, Paul-Henri Mathieu of France beat Denis Kudla of the United States 6-4, 7-5, and Canadian Vasek Pospisil won 6-4, 6-4 against Robin Haase of the Netherland, who was a finalist in Vienna on Sunday.