Federer and Nadal Vie For Miami Milestone
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CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: One of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport, which started here 13 years ago at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park, will be renewed on Sunday in the championship of the Miami Open, presented by Itau. Superstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the third time this season and the 37th overall in a storied rivalry that began here in the third round on March 28, 2004. A 17-year-old Nadal won that match 63 63 and one year later (on April 3, 2005) the two met in their first final against each other. Federer rallied to win 26 67 76 63 61. Now 13 years later, they meet again in the first all 30 & over final in the tournament’s 33-year history (Federer is 35 and Nadal 30).
Nadal leads the head-to-head meetings 23-13 (tied 9-9 on hard courts) but Federer has won the past three meetings for the first time in the rivalry. Nadal is 14-8 in final meetings and owns a 12-5 advantage in ATP Masters 1000 tournaments (7-3 in finals). In their last Miami meeting in the 2011 sermi-finals, Nadal won 63 62. Since Nadal’s last win in the semi-finals at the 2014 Australian Open, Federer won in the final of his hometown Basel tournament in 2015. And after not meeting last year, Federer rallied to win in five sets at the Australian Open on Jan. 29 to earn his 18th Grand Slam crown, and in the 4R at ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells on March 15.
Federer outlasted No. 12 seed Nick Kyrgios 76(9) 67(9) 76(5) in a 3h, 11m semi-final battle on Friday night to advance to his fourth Miami Open final (2-1), the first since winning the 2006 title (d. current coach Ivan Ljubicic). His first final was a runner-up in 2002 (l. to Agassi). Federer comes in with a 10-match winning streak and 18-1 record on the season (6-0 vs. Top 10), his best start since 2006 when he went 33-1. Federer, at 35y, 7m, is trying to become the oldest Miami champion. He is also looking to become the first three-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season. Federer is 25-18 in ATP Masters finals and 90-48 in overall finals.
Nadal has only lost one set en route to his fifth Miami final (2005, 2008, 2011, 2014). This is the 30-year-old Spaniard’s 13th appearance in Miami, the most attempts without winning a title. He is trying to become the first Spanish man to win the title. Spaniards are 0-7 in finals. He enters with a 19-4 match record in 2017, the most wins on the ATP World Tour. Nadal reached finals at the Australian Open (l. to Federer in five sets) and Acapulco (l. to Querrey) and he is not only trying to capture his 70th career title, the Mallorca native is also aiming to earn his first hard court title since Doha in January 2014 (d. Monfils). He has played in 31 hard court tournaments since the Doha title. A title would also be Nadal’s seventh different (eighth overall with Hamburg) ATP Masters 1000 crown and 29th overall, which would leave him one behind all-time leader Novak Djokovic. He would also join Andre Agassi as the only players to win an ATP Masters 1000 title in teens, 20s and 30s.
BIG FOUR DOMINATION: With Federer and Nadal in the final, another title for the ‘Big Four’ is guaranteed. Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 57 of the last 62 ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, which dates back to Nadal’s triumph at Monte-Carlo in 2010. Here is a breakdown of the ATP Masters 1000 titles won by the Big Four during that span: Djokovic (25), Nadal (13), Murray (10) and Federer (9). The only other players to emerge with an ATP Masters 1000 title during that time are: Robin Soderling (2010 Paris), David Ferrer (2012 Paris), Stan Wawrinka (2014 Monte-Carlo), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2014 Toronto) and Marin Cilic (2016 Cincinnati).
INDIAN WELLS, MIAMI TITLE SWEEP: Since 1991, seven players have won the first two ATP Masters 1000 events of the season (11 times) in Indian Wells and Miami. Federer, who won both titles in 2005-06, and Djokovic, who has accomplished the feat a record four times (2011, ’14-15-16), are the only active players to pull off this double ATP Masters 1000 sweep in the same year:
Novak Djokovic 2011, ’14-15-16
Roger Federer 2005-06
Andre Agassi 2001
Marcelo Rios 1998
Pete Sampras 1994
Michael Chang 1992
Jim Courier 1991
SPANIARDS IN MIAMI FINALS: Nadal is trying to become the first Spanish man to win the Miami Open title.Besides Nadal’s four runner-up showings, three other countrymen have reached the final:
2017 - Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
2014 - Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic
2013 - David Ferrer lost to Andy Murray
2011 - Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic
2008 - Rafael Nadal lost to Nikolay Davydenko
2005 - Rafael Nadal lost to Roger Federer
2003 - Carlos Moya lost to Andre Agassi
1997 - Sergi Bruguera lost to Thomas Muster