Federer digs deep, injured Kuznetsova exits

MIAMI: Roger Federer escaped being blown off course during an uncharacteristically haphazard 7-6 7-6 third round win over Florent Serra at a blustery Sony Ericsson Open.

A right shoulder strain scuppered top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova''s chances of going further in the tournament. The Russian was up 5-3 in the first set but the injury curtailed her movement and from then on she failed to win another game in a 6-3 6-0 defeat by France''s Marion Bartoli.

"It was so painful I almost had stars in my eyes," said Kuznetsova, who had a trainer check her shoulder three times during the match.

"I think I should have pulled out earlier. It''s impossible... I cannot return. Then I cannot serve, but that was my choice to play."

After a four-hour rain delay that had fans scurrying out of the small island of Key Biscayne, Florida, Federer stepped on to a half-empty stadium court to play the unseeded Frenchman, who has never advanced past the last 32 in Miami.

Federer struggled to find his rhythm with his backhand early in the match. After breaking Serra to go up 4-2 in the first set, Federer allowed the Frenchman to rally and level the contest at 5-5.

In the end, the Swiss won three of eight break points and made 35 unforced errors while rival Rafa Nadal watched from the stands.

"It''s nice to have won two breakers because that doesn''t happen every match you play," said Federer.

"I still have to tidy up my game a bit, having had one break up in the first and two breaks up in the second, it''s normally something that doesn''t get away from me."

Serra has now lost 12 straight matches against top-10 players.

American Mardy Fish also advanced by beating Spain''s Feliciano Lopez 7-5 6-3.