Sunday, April 02, 2017

Roger Federer completes 3rd Sunshine Double with Miami title, his 91st!

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The legend continues to grow. Roger Federer extended his run of dominance in 2017, clinching his third title of the season 6-3, 6-4 over Rafael Nadal on Sunday at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Federer added to his ATP World Tour Masters 1000 legacy, notching his 26th crown and third Sunshine Double (2005-06), having lifted the trophy in Indian Wells two weeks prior. The Swiss, who is projected to return to the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 4 on Monday, earned his 91st tour-level title in total.

On song throughout the fortnight in Miami, Federer rarely put a foot wrong in Sunday’s final, prevailing after one hour and 34 minutes. He fired 29 winners, including 19 off his forehand wing and five aces. The Swiss claimed two of nine break points, while turning aside all four faced. It was Federer’s first title at the hard-court event since defeating coach Ivan Ljubicic in 2006.

"I'm moving up in the [Emirates ATP Rankings] and I just want to stay healthy," Federer told Brad Gilbert of ESPN following the match. "When I'm healthy and feeling good, I can produce tennis like this. That's why taking a break and resting during the clay season and focusing on Roland Garros, the grass and the hard courts after that is best. I would be great to be No. 1 again, but it's a long way away."

Arguably the biggest storyline on the ATP World Tour this year has been the renewal of one of the most storied rivalries in the history of sport. It was front and centre once again at the Crandon Park Tennis Center, with Federer and Nadal writing a 37th captivating chapter. With the Spaniard seeking revenge after falling at both the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open, it marked the earliest they've played each other three times in a season.

Heavy and humid conditions greeted both competitors as they sought to take the initiative early and often. Federer showed his resilience following a three-hour semi-final epic against Nick Kyrgios on Friday. Looking to carry the momentum after a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Nadal in Indian Wells, he would deny break points in three of his first four service games. Federer struck first at 4-3, flattening an inside-out forehand to push Nadal off the court and secure the opening break of the match. He would consolidate a game later to seize the 48-minute opener.

Looking to turn the tables in the second set, Nadal would overcome a break point at 3-3 30/40 with a lunging volley winner. Despite employing a more aggressive gameplan, he was unable to change the momentum, as Federer remained calm in the big moments and eventually captured the decisive break for 5-4. The fourth seed emerged victorious on his first championship point as a Nadal forehand sailed long.

Flawless against the Top 10 this season, Federer improved to a staggering 7-0 against elite competition and is now 19-1 overall. It is his best start to a season since 2006, when he went 33-1. The first 30 & over final in tournament history, at 35 years and seven months, Federer became the oldest Miami champion.

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders

Player Titles

Novak Djokovic 30

Rafael Nadal 28

Roger Federer 26

Andre Agassi 17
Andy Murray 14

Exactly 12 years removed from their first-ever meeting in a final, won by the Basel native in five sets, he took a 10-9 lead on hard courts in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Nadal still leads 23-14 overall, but the Spaniard has dropped their four most recent encounters, dating back to 2015.

With both players projected to return to the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, Federer earned 1,000 points and $1,175,505 in prize money and Nadal took home 600 points and $573,680. The Mallorca native was bidding to claim his first title in his fifth final appearance in Miami and join Andre Agassi as the only players to win ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in their teens, 20s and 30s. Nadal was seeking a 29th Masters 1000 crown in total and 70th at the tour-level. He remains in search of his first hard-court crown since Doha 2014.

Someone pinch me, I think I'm dreaming.  

On second thought, don't wake me up. 

Congrats Swiss Maestro, now get some well deserved rest.  

See you at Roland Garros in May!.

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