The Fed Express keeps on rolling as the GOAT moves into the Miami Open final with a 7-6 (11/9), 6-7 (11/9), 7-6 (7/5) win over Nick Kyrgios in three hours and nine minutes to setup Fedal XXXVII in Sundays showpiece.
The win sees Roger chalk up his 18th win of the season and he continues to defy both critics and father time in his best start to a year since 2006.
Quick Match Recap
Kyrgios won the toss and elected to receive. Roger held to 15 and then created his first break point of the set. Kyrgios held, but he soon had to fight off two more break points to level for 2-2.
Roger had been doing all the early running, but in game seven he was broken totally against the run of play, starting off the game with a missed drop shot. Kyrgios consolidated for 5-3, but he couldn't serve it out, double faulting on break point as Roger leveled for 5-5.
After Kyrgios saved a set point at 5-6, this one went into a tie-break. Kyrgios went up a mini break twice early, but Roger hit back both times and was the first player to hold a set point at 5-6. Kyrgios then held two of his own at 8-7 and 9-8, but Roger fended them off. The Australian then fired down a double fault at 9-9 and Roger sealed it 11-9.
Into set two and the early exchanges were dominated by serve with both players firing down love holds on the way to 3-3. Here Roger again was the player to hold break points, two of them in total, but Kyrgios came up with some big serving to hold for 4-3, and the set progressed into another tiebreak.
This time Roger was the man to hold the mini-break advantage twice early on only to lose it both times. Despite that he held his first match point at 6-5 and another at 8-7 only to see Kyrgios hang on before sealing it with an ace 11-9.
Set three's outcome was anyone's guess as it was difficult to know what energy reserves Roger had left but he came out firing, and he only dropped 7 points on serve in set 3. Neither player managed to create a breakpoint and a final set tie break ensued meaning all six sets the two have played have gone the distance.
Like the two previous breakers, one player would go up a mini break twice in the set only to get reeled back in. This time it was Kyrgios who looked to be in the driving seat at 5-4 but somehow Roger managed to win both return points (aided by a double fault) to lead 6-5 before sealing it with a big serve out wide on the ad court.
|Nick Kyrgios||Roger Federer|
|First Serve Percent||64% (95/148)||61% (74/122)|
|1st Serve Points Won||75% (71/95)||85% (63/74)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||53% (28/53)||58% (28/48)|
|Break Points Saved||86% (6/7)||50% (1/2)|
|Service Games Played||18||18|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||15% (11/74)||25% (24/95)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||42% (20/48)||47% (25/53)|
|Break Points Converted||50% (1/2)||14% (1/7)|
|Return Games Played||18||18|
|Total Service Points Won||67% (99/148)||75% (91/122)|
|Total Return Points Won||25% (31/122)||33% (49/148)|
|Total Points Won||48% (130/270)||52% (140/270)|
Thoughts on the Match
It did feel very good, because you don't very often play three breakers in a match. It's nice to win those and winning breakers is always such a thrill. It's great winning this way, especially because I remember the loss against him a few years ago, It was rough. It was the birthday of my boys. I wasn't with them and had that match, so it was nice to get this one tonight.
The best match of 2017 so far? It may well be as it certainly had a bit of everything. Tweeners, racquet smashes, crowd involvement, crucial double faults and some high quality shotmaking over the 3 hour duration.
I thought both guys showed off what they can do brilliantly with Kyrgios showing just how good his serve is (the rate at which he hits aces is one of the best in the game) and Roger showing that he was at his unflappable best to come through in three tie break sets for the 5th (W5-L2) time in his career.
Ultimately I think it was Roger's calmness that got him through to the final. There was very little to separate the two on the night as the scoreline shows. Both guys have great serves and access to so many different shots but Roger does a better job of balancing them with the percentage plays and knowing what to do and when to do it.
Kyrgios will roll the dice on any given point, which is why he saved match points in style but also why he double faulted at a crucial moment. Roger certainly wasn't slow but he was definitely steady and that won the race last night.
So great win and a great match. I thought Fed moved really well from start to finish which was good to see given he looked tired last match. He also served much better too so hopefully he can keep that up for the final.
Crowd involvement? Huge talking point on Twitter after the match after Kyrgios was annoyed at someone calling out on a key point which he lost (the same happened to Federer moments earlier) and just generally displeased at them getting on his back. I didn't really have a problem with the crowd though, you want them to be involved and there's always going to be the odd moment where some of them shout out at the worst possible time. That's something you just have to deal with and the Umpire has to manage. It's not much different to someone tooting their horn when they drive past public courts.
Kyrgios didn't really help his cause either with some of his reactions, time wasting in between points and halting play but that's his style and something he'll always come up against as he divides opinion (of course the media loves playing along with and furthering that bad guy persona). But if he keeps playing tweeners on break points he'll win more fans than lose them anyway. And he's certainly got way better at focusing point for point and managing his aberrations on court in recent weeks so I think he's cool to watch.
Predictions vs. Nadal
Next up is Nadal who cruised into the final after defeating Fognini 6-1 7-5. He barely lost a point on serve as Fognini wasn't able to conjure up any of the magic that saw him beat Nadal in 5 sets at the US Open a couple of years back.
This should be another interesting match – Nadal has the slow conditions in his favour and the fresher legs of the two. Federer has the recent mental edge and is on a great winning streak on US hard courts.
Like the last match, I rate it as 50/50. Fed surprised me how well he held up vs. Krygios last night, so if he takes to the court looking fresh on Sunday I like his chances. Any drop off though and I think Nadal will probably be good enough to take advantage on this surface as there's less chances for Fed to hit through the court and end points quickly.
Nadal has played nobody of note this tournament though so his form is still a bit up in the air. In fact it's been a mickey mouse route to the final as none of his opponents have the belief they can beat him. He looked shaky vs. Mahut who couldn't take advantage and Kohlschreiber summed up his H2H against the elite in their match earlier this week.
Here's hoping for a Sunshine Slam come Sunday 🙂
What did you think of the Semi Final? And what are your predictions for the final? Let me know in the comments.