Roger Federer conducted a serving clinic against one of the top servers in the business – John Isner, to lift his fourth title at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Sunday. The third seeded Swiss who was within two games of exiting in the second round like last year against Radu Albot, won 32 out of 35 points on serve, winning 6-1,6-4 in sixty four minutes to clinch his 101st tour level title and his 28th Master’s series title at the Hard Rock Stadium.
Federer, a winner of the title, in the Sunshine State, in 2005,2006 and 2017 made sure he won at least one of the two titles which comprise the Sunshine double, a feat he achieved in those three years by also winning the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. He had lost the final in Indian Wells coming within two points of beating the eventual winner Dominic Thiem who claimed his maiden Master’s title.
He won all twenty points on first serve in what was his 154th tour level final. The three points he lost on serve is the fewest he has dropped in any of those championship matches. His previous low in a final came five years ago in his native Basel, where he lost five service points (32/37) against David Goffin of Belgium.
Federer broke the Isner serve in the opening game of the match electing to receive, broke serve four times in the match against the defending champion. The local favourite from North Carolina, served 9 aces and saved six out of the ten break points he faced. Federer had 6 aces and never faced break point in the match.
After dropping the first set in the second round encounter against Radu Albot, won twelve consecutive sets to clinch his second title of the year, having claimed his 100th tour level title in Dubai. He improved his head to head against Isner to 6-2 and his record in 2019 stands at 18-2. He is within two wins of registering his 1200th career win on Tour. He is second only to the American Jimmy Connors, who won 109 tour level titles and won 1,256 matches at Tour level.
After dropping serve three times in the first set, the seventh seeded American who had won nine out of ten sets in Miami by virtue of winning in tie-breaks, looked to have recovered form and just when it looked like a tie-break would decide the second set, Federer broke serve in the tenth game of the second set. He has now beaten Isner in two finals, the previous one at Indian Wells in 2012. Both players had beaten Canadian opponents in the semi-final on Friday to reach the final. While Isner beat the 18 year Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3),7-6(4), Federer had beaten Denis Shapovalov 6-2,6-4.
Federer will now move upto fourth in the ATP rankings and now leads in the race to London, ahead 55 points of the World number One Novak Djokovic of Serbia. He is scheduled to return on clay for the first time in three years when he plays in the Mutua Madrid Open in May. His only losses in 2019 came against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the Round of Sixteen match at the Australian Open and in the final of the Indian Wells Master’s to the Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Isner meanwhile moved 17 places in the Race to London where he stands sixth, drops one position to tenth in the ATP rankings as he was defending 1000 points from his 2018 win in Miami. He is 15-7 for the year.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]