Miami Final Preview: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, Who’s Pick?
by Sean Randall | April 1st, 2017, 5:46 pm

Missing Andy Murray? Missing Novak Djokovic? Yup, it’s been that kind of year. Just when Murray and Djokovic thought the tour was in their possession, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal came back just to spoil their 2017 party, and right now they are running away with the tour. And one of them will take home the Miami title, which Murray and Djokovic had won the last six years.

Federer, to me, has been the surprise this week. I thought after winning Indian Wells he would take it easy this week, be cautious and not overdue things. He was playing with house money thanks to Indian Wells. And he even talked about it.

“When I came to Miami I just thought — like I did in Indian Wells and in Australia — eventually it’s just going to catch up with me,” Federer said. “Miami is probably not going to work that well because it’s slower. I already won Indian Wells.”

Yet it hasn’t caught up to him. And to his credit he’s done just the opposite, fighting and battling his way through Tomas Berdych, saving two matchpoints. Then last night hanging in during that nail-biting 3-tiebreak thriller over Nick Kyrgios.

Rafa, on the other hand, I thought would do this well. And I thought in the absence of Murray and Djokovic, that he would finally win this title. But I thought that win would come over a different European with a 1-handed backhand. Dominic Thiem isn’t walking out on court tomorrow, it’s Mr. Federer.

On to my pick.

Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal
Wow, this is a tough one. Rafa was my pick at the start of the event and I really want to stick with him But the way Federer’s been playing gives me a lot of pause here. He’s still cracking that backhand, ripping forehands, serving lights out and his return of serve has been amazing.

Rafa’s been playing well, also, but that not that well. He served great against Fognini and to beat Roger – because of Fed’s return – he’ll have to do even better tomorrow. And to me, that’s the problem. Rafa’s serve, specifically his second which Fed jumped all over at Indian Wells. And when that happens and Rafa’s forehand isn’t doing damage to Roger’s improve backhand, it’s over.

“It’s true that I didn’t play my best match against Roger, but the feeling was good,” Nadal said. And he says now that with the draw opening up, it’s helped him in Miami.

“Is true that in my place couple of players lost, some seeds lost overall in the whole draw,” he said. “I was able to play every day a little bit better, I think. That’s why I am in the final, no?”

Well, yes. I picked Rafa because he was playing good and I felt he would get that good draw, and he did. Nicolas Mahut, Jack Sock and then Fognini to make a Miami is about as easy as it will ever be.

And against Roger, the slower court, the heavier conditions and the heat should help Rafa out. And he’s got the motivation of never having won Miami before and halting a 3-match losing streak to Fed.

“Here we are in the finals and I get a chance to win the tournament,” Federer said. “Still I feel like there is a mountain to climb in Rafa. He’s not won it yet before. He’s definitely feeling fresher than I feel right now. That’s not a problem. I’ll be ready on Sunday.”

But in the past it’s been Rafa inside Roger’s head. Now, it’s reversed. I just feel Roger’s playing with more confidence – and you can see it in his game – whereas Rafa’s still unsure, still frustrated like we saw when he could put Fognini away earlier. And I think in the end, that’s the difference. Roger’s just got a little more swagger here. Plus, the day off today should help him fully recover following two tough matches on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s definitely going to be very special playing Rafa here again,” Federer added. “Of course I’m thrilled for him as well that he came back as well as he did after the comeback, the struggles that he had last year. Feels like old times. We’re playing each other every week now. We can’t get enough of each other.”

And neither can we.
The pick: Federer in 3

ESPN2 will have live coverage starting at 1pm. Regardless of the outcome of the match – which could go just about any way – it’s been an unbelievable first quarter to the season. Who would have thought Roger and Rafa would be far and away the two best on the circuit this year.

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41 Comments for Miami Final Preview: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, Who’s Pick?

James Says:

Nadal in 2. With the hours Fed has put on the court – 5+ tough hours thu/fri, plus this is the 10th match in 3 weeks – 35+ age, No way. Nadal, on the other hand, is totally fresh, far fewer matches, hardly any tough ones, he is 5 years younger.

Nadal has to badly lose this one. Fed can’t win it.

monterey Says:

Of course Fed can win it. He’s battle hardened and tough as nails now. And he knows damn well he’ll never get another opportunity to do the triple play again (Aus Open, IW, Miami).

Look for Fed to make the final aggressive push before a well-deserved break coming up. I see two close sets for not-so-old Roger.

Remcom Says:

Sounds trite, but the Sunday showdown will come down to mental: who wants it more?

That should point clearly to Nadal winning the title (finally), but I’m so sure any more!

Kimberly Says:

The womens final today was miserable. Waaaay to Hot, wozniacki not exciting to watch, by the middle of the second set people were rooting for Konta just for it to end, as they were in the WOzniaki safarova. Not sure why they do the final at 1. After three hours of the most exciting match ever two hours of the most boring match ever in sweltering heat wasn’t fun.

So obviously I am a patron sponsor of the Miami Open and I have a three seat box. I looked on stubhub and I can sell my seats for a tempting price. Enough to pay for over half the box!!!!!

But I’m not going to do it. Not Selling. So I hope its a good match! I can make money working and selling houses every day. But I may never get the chance to see Federer play Nadal live again.

skeezer Says:

No way sell. You are right, you may never have a chance to see these two play again, and especially at the level they are playing. Enjoy!
Rafa needs to hit his strokes deep, no short balls or else. Fed is too offensive nowadays. Hopfully its a cracker.

FedExpress Says:

yeah just like at AO and IW where the old man should have lost, James

Madmax Says:

Well…here we are again…Fed is as ready as he will ever be.

Looking forward to another match. Kimberley,I am jealous.

rognadfan Says:

As good as Roger is hitting the BH, the way rafa’s balls were bowncing off the court against Fognini tells me it’s going to be a tough day in the office for Roger.
of course he will still give some trouble to rafa with that BH, I believe. But the slow courts will give Nadal the time that roger was able to take away so well at IW and AO.

Still, Roger may win it but as someone said earlier, Nadal is hungrier and the conditions are just the one he likes when playing against roger.
I think it’s going to be Rafa in 3 tomorrow.

Margot Says:

Hope it’s a good match and you have a great time Kimberly. Heat sounds horrendous, as you say, why do they do it?

Van orten Says:

It doesn’t matter how fast the court is. It will be fast enough. It will be key for nadal to not playing short all the time. Fognini had plenty of chances to finish points because of Rafa’s short balls but didn’t do it because he was too error-prone and …. fognini.
I remember the times when we all thought loss after loss vs nadal that fed was due for victory and the next match /final he would win because of the court speed or recent form etc and .. and then nadal won again .
It kinda feels like that dynamic has changed the other way around this time. Just a feeling . Hope I am right and fed plays like he did the whole week. He will be hard to beat then

Madmax Says:

Steve Tignor backs Nadal.

jatin Says:

Tignor curse is infamous. He never picks fed EVER ….. LOL

Mrs M. J. Harrop-Allin Says:

am sure that Federer will win his next match.

monterey Says:

I think Fed has even more motivation to win this than Nadal. After winning AO and IW, and having played three very tough matches against RBA, Berdych and Kyrgios, it would be lousy to falter at the final step, disappointing as hell.

To go this far and having expended so much energy……yeah, I think he wants the final prize badly. Better get while the getting is good. You never know when it’s the last final, the last title.

As he said, he’ll be ready.

LUCY Says:

I can see Nadal winning this. Roger has had 2 tough long matches when he was on the very brink of losing both. The match against Berdych was a lucky get-out for Roger – which before anyone pounces on me, was ACKNOWLEDGED by Roger himself recently!
Kyrgios also had match-point and should have won, but for the shouting-out by the crowd when he was trying to serve.
I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that it’s the 3rd test which will tell and his opponent today won’t faulter like the other 2 did. Nothing against Roger, he’s playing incredibly well – but it just feels time for someone else to win….

Pitchaboy Says:

In the days of yore a Fed v Rafa match was a foregone conclusion in Fed’s head. Not so anymore and the match will be on Fed’s racquet and Rafa’s head. If fatigue is not a factor, Fed will take it with greater ease than with Nick

Martin rivkin Says:

Missing Novak Djokovic? Yup, it’s been that kind of year. and
so glad it has !!! longer joker sick is away from the action the better more intresting match ups , better matches !!!

J.S. Says:

LUCY – I hope you’re right….So excited to watch this match!!!

Hopefully NO call outs from an unruly crowd today. Let’s hope they respect both players, glad Rafa will have some support!

Gordon Says:

If I had a dollar for each time a commentator said during the 2017 AO Final, “Let’s relish this match, for we don’t know if we’ll ever see these two meet again” I’d have about six dollars.

Seriously, these two men have spent their entire careers baffling us. Just when you think one of them is done another rabbit gets pulled from one of their hats.

Watching the Berdych match I thought Federer was done at its conclusion. Playing the next day against Kyrgios was going to do him in. Instead a quote of Federer’s from 2006 surfaced – “You don’t have to be the best player in the world in every match; you just have to be better than the guy across the net from you.” To credit his win to the fans’ hostility towards the Australian kid and then adding “nothing against Fed” is disingenuous. Kyrgios may be the next guy other than Rog, Rafa, Nole or Murray to win a slam, but he still lacks a mental maturity that admittedly he is taking steps towards fixing. Fed and Rafa have been able to compartmentalize each point forever. This is something anyone facing them must learn to do. Kyrgios is still learning.

What Rafa and Roger have done for the sport of tennis is incalculable. Once again – and I hope we see them play several more times – may the best player on the day win. So – Let’s relish this match, for we don’t know if we’ll ever see these two meet again (damn – I owe myself a buck).

RZ Says:

Slower court makes me think Rafa, but there’s can a pattern the last few years of top player saving match point in previous matches and then going on to win the tournament, which favors Fed. So I’m rorn. Just hope it’s a good match l.

jatin Says:

I am just glad, its roger vs rafa again. Hope we will see these two squaring off even in French, Wimby and US and most of the tournaments this year. A fan can only dream :)
Such LEGENDS they are.
I have seen this preview clip like 5 times already

Getting goose bumps every time.

skeezer Says:

This match deserves a good and fair umpire. Hope its carlos bernardes.

Colleen Clancy Says:

Nadal admitted during the 2015 french that he asked the sports administrators to ban Carlos Bernardes from his matches. Don’t know how long this “ban” is supposed to go on for.

skeezer Says:

Carlos is currently umping at the Miami Open. Rafa doesn’t like a lot of things, like to many hard courts…..

Giles Says:

^^^^ FOS as usual 😡😡

Giles Says:

Ban was over a long time ago!!! Keep up

FedExpress Says:

yeah skeezer, i read this week that he complained that there are too many hard court and less clay court events. And that the WTF surface should change, too unfair.

Should Fed start to comlain about the lack of grass tournaments and no masters on grass?

FedExpress Says:

Lucy, who was serving for the match before Berdych got to 2 MPs?

FedExpress Says:

Was Tignor ever right regarding his prediction of a fedal match?

J.S. Says:

Now you are making things up….FEDEXPRESS – Link please where Rafa said that?

lakie Says:

Kimberley do you know why Miami schediuled the final at 1 pm. It is so hot.

rognadfan Says:

knowing you are a Fed Fan, I’d like to see posts that wouldn’t go as low as the ones Giles posts here. Giles simply is getting alternative facts from some blind blokes and posting here-simply out of some jealousy and a lot of ignorance.
But you post is on the borderline of being the alternative fact.
Nadal never complained that there are too many hard-court tournaments. Instead he raised the concern that the clay-court tournaments are being replaced by hard-courts (special reference was to south American tourneys), which is not good for the tennis.
And it’s not the same thing as complaining. Clay courts are the most challenging courts in tennis and loosing them means less diversity and more players from a concentrated regions-where hardcourt facilities are in every city blocks. We go down that path and it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that future tennis tourneys will be for two classes of people: one for the northerners of the western hemisphere (+ Australia + other filthy rich people) and others for the rest (aka, poorer denizens of this earth).

rognadfan Says:

I think down there, afternoon showers are very common and occur almost everyday come summer. Hence the early scheduling. That’s my understanding.

Pamela Says:

kimberly – How very exciting… you are for sure there already, in your box… Hope you enjoy… and yes, rognadfan… afternoon rain is very common, although more so in the summer…

I am a fed fan all the way and would love to see Roger win this one more time…. winning IW and Miami together is a very cool thing to do and Roger has not done that in about 10 years. as far as Rafa wanting it more b/c he has never won Miami, or even b/c Roger has beaten him the last 3 times…. I would say Roger wants it as much as Rafa. He has not won this tournament in well over 10 year and I feel he loves the ride he’s been on…. am very excited to watch the match…

and James… Roger may be 5 years older than Rafa, but I seriously don’t think that will make a difference. Roger had yesterday off and I think that should be enough…..I guess we will see

Tennisfansince1976 Says:

@Giles I looked at that twitter link you provided. Mostly he is obsessed with Federer being a doper which is entirely possible. But did you catch the entry where he states that of course Nadal is a miracle of “modern medical science”. Because if roger is doping then it is a sure thing that Nadal is and has been for years.

J.S. Says:

Fergus Murphy is umpiring the Fedal match

madmax Says:

Federer in 2 Sean.

Come on!

rognadfan Says:

FedEx press, still it’s not complaining. It’s a great and rational point he is making. Complain is somebody’s words you are taking. Anyway, let’s enjoy the moment shall we??

Miles Says:

Re the monomaniac Giles – can you please tell me which PED improves a backhand shot? I wonder why other players aren’t taking it?

If Federer finishes this year as world number 1, be sure to have a darkened room available in which to lie down.

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