KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — On the verge of victory, Roger Federer stopped playing when he thought a pivotal point had ended.
He mistook a fan’s shout for a linesman’s call, which cost him the game. Play continued for another 25 minutes before Federer finally closed out his opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday by beating 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-6 (3).
“I’d like to make it a bit more difficult for my opponent,” Federer said. “I was just completely confused about the whole situation.”
Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick won in easier fashion, but Kim Clijsters was eliminated.
Federer led 5-2 in the second set and had a chance to finish in less than an hour until he lost two fluky points that extended the match.
Serving at 5-3, Federer blew an easy overhead to fall behind 15-30. One point later, facing break point for the only time in the match, Federer hit a forehand that landed on the baseline.
A fan hollered “Out!” and Federer stopped. By the time he realized the ball was still in play, Harrison had won the point – and the game.
“It completely threw me off,” Federer said. “It’s the first time it has ever happened in my career. I was like, ‘That’s it? That’s a break point? This is how this is going to happen?’”
Federer’s opponent in the third round will be Roddick, who lost only five points on his first serve, never faced a break point and beat Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-2.
Williams started early and finished fast, moving into the fourth round by beating Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-1.
Sharapova, seeded second, beat American qualifier Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-2. Clijsters, coming back from an ankle injury, lost to No. 23 Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 7-6 (5).
No. 8 Mardy Fish was among 12 seeded men to advance. One lost: No. 15 Feliciano Lopez was beaten by fellow Albert Ramos, 6-4, 7-6 (5).