Roger Federer To Limit Clay Play After Beating Rafael Nadal In Miami Open Final
Roger Federer will reportedly take nearly two months off from clay tennis after defeating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in the Miami Open Final on Sunday to become the 33-year-old tournament’s oldest winner at 35.
The Swiss, the tournament’s fourth-seed, has now won 19 of his 20 matches in 2017 and three titles since January, the first two being the Australian Open and Indian Wells. He also beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January.
Federer, a father of four who sat out the second half of 2016 to recover from a knee injury, says rest will prepare him from the French Open, which begins May 28.
“When I am healthy and feeling good, I can produce tennis like this,” he said.
“When I am not feeling this good there is no chance I will be in the finals competing with Rafa,” the 18-time Grand Slam winner told ESPN on-court after the win.
“That is why this break is coming in the clay-court season, focusing everything on the French, the grass and then the hard courts after that.
“I’m not 24 anymore so things have changed in a big way and I probably won’t play any clay-court event except the French.”
The Swiss has won Roland Garros once in 2009. If he stays true to his word, he would skip clay tournaments like the Monte Carlo Masters, Madrid Open, Rome Masters and Istanbul Open – the last clay tournament he won in 2015.
Federer and Nadal have had a contentious rivalry for several years. Nadal, the fifth-seed from Spain, has now lost five finals in Key Biscayne, Florida.
The Swiss’s hiatus comes following the best winning run of his career since 2006, when he claimed 33 of his first 34 matches of that year.
I his on-court interview Sunday, Federer also supported Nadal, who has also suffered several injuries recently, in his own quest for a title win on clay.
“I know everybody is working very hard on your team to get you back in shape, and keep going,” said Federer. “The clay courts are around, so I’m sure you are going to tear it into pieces over there.”
Federer also won the Miami Open in 2005 and 2006. Nadal lost to Federer in the 2005 finals and was also runner-up in 2008, 2011 and 2014.
“It’s disappointing for me that I am trying during all my career,” Nadal told the crowd with a smile during the trophy ceremony. “Every three years I am in this position, but always with the smaller trophy.”
And yet, Federer told his long-time rival that he remains confident he will someday win a title at Key Biscayne.
“I truly believe you are going to still win this tournament,” Federer told Nadal. “You’re too good not to.”
Federer finished with 30 winners and only 17 unforced errors in Sunday’s final. He hit his only double fault on the first point but quickly recovered. The following point, ironically enough, was the longest one of the match. Federer ended the 19-shot rally witha forehand winner in the corner.
Both players agreed the match, which was played in humid, 85-degree weather that made them both tired, was closer than the score suggests and was decided by only a few points.
Federer erased all four break points he faced, and though he failed to capitalize on five early break-point chances himself, he broke in the penultimate game of both sets.
After Nadal hit a long return on the final point, Federer grabbed the ball off a bounce behind the baseline, tossed it into the stands and waived both hands in celebration. The sellout crowd appeared evenly split in its support but cheered substantially loudly for the Swiss favorite.
“For me,” Federer said, “the dream continues.”
On the women’s side, Johanna Konta, the tenth-seed from Britain, defeated 12th-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday’s final.
KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 27: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during Day 8 of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2017 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)