Roger Federer triumphs over old rival again at Miami Open
Rafael Nadal beaten 6-3 6-4 in final as 35-year-old continues remarkable revival
Roger Federer holds the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal in the Miami Open final. Photograph: Getty Images
The 35-year-old powered his way to a 6-3 6-4 final victory on Sunday, adding the Miami crown to his Australian Open and Indian Wells successes since his return from a six-month injury layoff.
Nadal, who was bidding for his first triumph under the Florida sun, was broken once in each set as he again succumbed to a man who has proved his nemesis this year.
Speaking on court afterwards, Federer said: “First of all, congratulations, Rafa, on a great comeback yourself. I’m happy we are both here together. I enjoy playing against you.
“This is where it all started for us in 2004 when you were a little boy who grew into a big man and strong man. We have had some epic matches over the years which I didn’t always enjoy, but mostly.
“We have had some great battles over the years, and in 2005, when I beat you very luckily here in the final, I also probably told you you are going to win this tournament – and I truly believe you are going to still win this tournament.
“You are too good not to win this one, so all the best for the coming years, of course. Also congratulations to [Nadal’s] team – I know everybody is working very hard on your team to get you back in shape, and keep going. The clay courts are around, so I’m sure you are going to tear it into pieces over there.”
The victory was Federer’s 26th ATP Masters 1000 title – only Novak Djokovic, with 30, and Nadal, with 28, have won more – and his 91st open-era crown.
“For me, the dream continues,” he said. “It’s been a fabulous couple of weeks here in Miami. Indian Wells was beautiful as well.
“Of course, I’d like to thank my team as well. What a start to the year. I can’t believe it. Thank you, everybody who has been supporting me throughout this week and this year and also in my more difficult challenging times last year.”
Nadal, who has himself been hampered by injury, was gracious in defeat but determined to break his duck in Miami.
“Congratulations to Roger and all his team for an amazing start to the season,” he said. “I think [it’s] one of the best comebacks ever on the [ATP] Tour after a long injury, so well done. I am very happy for you.
“I just can say thank you very much to everybody here in Miami. Miami has been a very good two weeks for me, even if I lost for the third time this year against Roger. It was a good start to the season, playing already in three finals.
“It’s disappointing for me that I have been trying during all my career. Every three years, I am here in this position, but always with the smaller trophy.
“I am going to keep trying hard for the next couple of years. Hopefully, I will not have to wait three more years to be in that position, fighting again for the title.”
Fourth seed Federer survived a series of early scares in a tight first set, and it was he who eventually made his move in the eighth game to convert a break point at the third attempt and give himself a chance to serve for the set.
Having opened the door, he powered his way through it with a confident service game to take the set 6-3.
Nadal, who was disturbed by a drone flying above the court as he prepared to serve early in the second set, had to defend two break points at 3-3 with Federer’s backhand in full flow, but he could not resist at the next time of asking.
A net cord which left the Spaniard in a hopeless position at 30-all handed his opponent another chance to break, and Federer forced an error to take a 5-4 lead and the opportunity to serve for the title.
Nadal was given hope when Federer opened with a double fault, but he restored parity with a glorious backhand pass and served out to secure victory.