Roger Federer made the decision to receive when he won the coin toss and in some ways that proved the difference today in the Miami final against big man John Isner.
Federer forced Isner to serve and the defending champion was promptly broken. Federer, who has never been broken by Isner on hard courts, breezed from there breaking Isner two more times in the first set and again late in the second when the American injured his foot to win his 4th Miami title in comfortable fashion 6-1, 6-4 in just over an hour.
“It was a dream start, relaxing my nerves,” said Federer of the early break. “What a week it’s been for me. I’m just so happy right now. It’s unbelievable. I played here in 1999 for the first time and here I am in 2019. It means a lot to me.”
Federer didn’t lose a point on first serve winning 20/20 while dropping just three on his second delivery. On Federer’s serve, Isner never had a chance and from the baseline was struggling to create any kind of pressure on the Swiss.
At 3-4 in the second, Isner needed treatment for a left foot tweak, then serving to stay in it 4-5, Isner was hunched over, hobbling, near retirement and visibly in pain. But credit to Isner, he refused to quit and stuck it out though eventually got broken for the match.
Federer wins his 101st career title, 28th Masters and 4th Miami crown. And the first title at the new home at Hard Rock Stadium will always be Federer’s.
“I think I was very clear on how I wanted to play, so I think that helped that I was able to not just have the plan but then being able to execute,” said Federer. “It’s always two things, having the plan and then it not working. And of course to win every single point, things need to go your way against him. So there needs to be both sides to the thing because he did have chances obviously to win some points. But apparently also on my second serve I hardly dropped any points.
“I just can be very happy on either end, return and serve, and that’s why I’m so happy that I was able to produce a performance like this in a finals, because this is what you train for and play for that constantly keeps your level going up as the tournament progresses. And this was my best. I’m very excited.”
In his first meeting with Isner since 2015 Paris, Federer extends his lead to 6-2 against him. Isner had come into the match winning his last 11 in Miami and taking nine straight tiebreaks this week, but there were no breakers today as Isner said he was feeling pain early on.
“Somewhere along in the first set I started feeling some pain on the top of my foot, and it didn’t go away,” said Isner. “It only kept getting worse. It’s a terrible feeling, because you’re on an island out there, and you have no teammates to hide behind. I was going up against the greatest player ever, playing in this incredible atmosphere and my foot’s killing me.
“Not that I would have won the match, anyways, let’s make that clear, but I think I could have made for a more interesting match and one that was a little more fun. Roger was too good. In the first five games, I was fine. Nothing was bothering me. He was all over me. Then there was this weird pain on the top of my foot. I’m hoping it’s nothing, but we’ll see.”
The 37-year-old Federer also begins the clay season as the leader in the 2019 ATP Points race, ahead of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
He’ll next be back on the courts in Madrid for his first clay event since 2016 Rome.
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