Roger Federer will take a well-deserved rest until the French Open after Sunday winning the Miami Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over his rival Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who also won the Australian Open and Indian Wells over the first three months of the year, won Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back for the third time in his career, and dropped Nadal to 0-5 in career Miami finals.
He is projected to return to No. 4 on the ATP rankings Monday, and is the clear No. 1 in the 2017-only ATP points standings.
“I think it was a close match,” said Federer who’s won his last 11 matches, losing just 2 sets. “Maybe if you didn’t see the match and you were sitting somewhere around the world and you see the score you’re thinking it was straightforward with couple breaks and that was it. That’s not the full story. I thought he had his chances in the first and in the second. It was close. I think on the big points today I was just a little bit better. Why, I have no explanation. I just think it fell that way today.”
In the first set Federer broke at 4-3, and both players in the second set fought off break chances until the Swiss broke at 4-4 then closed it out behind another awesome serving display.
The win was Federer’s 26th at a Masters, 91st overall and an ATP-leading 3rd of the season.
Federer is an incredible 19-1 this season and 7-0 against Top 10 competition after missing the end of last season with injury. And he nearly was bounced in the quarterfinals when he had to save two match points to beat Tomas Berdych.
“Physically, emotionally it’s been a draining week, so I did very well,” he said.
The Swiss added that he will take an extended break to recover, and next take to the court at Roland Garros.
Nadal has now lost four straight to Federer who joins Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko as the only other players to beat the Spaniard in succession more than three times.
“I think that I was close,” said Nadal. “I think I was close enough to win the first set. It was not my day. It is true that when somebody is coming with that dynamic like him that he’s winning a lot, all the things are going your way. So that’s what happened today, because in the first set I think anything could happen. Then in the second it was close.”
Nadal’s last hardcourt title came at Doha in 2014. He now heads to his favorite clay, where a meeting with Federer is highly unlikely, at least until the French, according to the Swiss.
With Federer resting, Nadal has a chance to close the gap and overtake Federer in the 2017 points race as he heads to his beloved clay in just a couple of weeks.
“I’m playing enough well to fight for everything I think,” Nadal said. “I have good hopes that I going to be ready for Monte-Carlo. Always when I am playing that well, on clay it helps a little bit more for me. I need to work hard to be ready for that. If I am ready for that, I think I am very excited about playing on clay again.
“I think about resting a little bit, having fun a little bit in Mallorca and I’ll be happy to be back home after one-and-a-half months. Then I will start working hard on clay. That’s my goal now. My goal is to feel ready to play on clay again and I know if I have good preparation and have a healthy transition to the clay and find my rhythm on clay, I can be one of those candidates.”
Earlier in the season, Federer had stated he was not going to be 100% back until April. Well, it’s April.
“The comeback is over,” Federer said. “I’m happy that nothing major happened throughout this period. It’s been a dream run on the court, off the court as well. My body has reacted very well and I couldn’t be happier, of course.”
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