It's insane to think that, 13 years after their first ever meeting, Federer vs. Nadal is still the most highly-anticipated match in men's tennis.
Confidence is everything in tennis and while Federer has it in abundance right now, the likes of world number one Andy Murray and number two Novak Djokovic don't after bumpy starts to the year.
When it finally landed beyond the baseline to earn Federer the Miami Open title, it served as the punctuation mark at the end of the first segment of the tennis year. They met in the final, with Serena claiming an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title. But then Federer got the break he needed in the eighth game of the first set, went ahead 5-3, and held on to win the set 6-3. More importantly, this is the first time since 2010 that the two have met in the finals of more than one tournament. Federer won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami Open. Not only are these two all-time greats dominating the season so far, they have emerged the fitter and the hungrier of the Big Five (yes, Wawrinka deserves a place there).
Federer continued his dominance over of Rafael Nadal by crushing the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Miami Open held yesterday. And even when he does play, he won't be staying undefeated in Slams and 1000's. Hitting his ferocious forehand cross-court with heavy top spin, Nadal would drive Federer back, forcing the Swiss to play his backhands at shoulder height.
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Federer, 35, became the oldest champion in tournament history.
Federer was coming off a thrilling three-hour semifinal win over Nick Kyrgios but nonetheless looked fresh against Nadal and erased all four break points he faced. I think (it's) one of the best comebacks ever on the (ATP) Tour after a long injury, so well done. Nadal's recent performance will make him one of the favourites for the upcoming clay court tournaments, including the French Open which commences on 22 May.
Federer, after returning from a six-month injury absence, broke once in each set on the Crandon Park hardcourt for his fourth consecutive victory over the Spaniard.
Nadal's best chance lay in a dogfight, but Federer knew this as well and went after the quick kill.
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Having opened the door, he powered his way through it with a confident service game to take the set 6-3. More than a match point for Federer, it was a moving punctuation mark, a yellow dot, a period. But he graded the past three months favorably, viewing three runner-up finishes on hard courts as a positive. It's more about relaxing right now, more about injury prevention.
Federer, nevertheless, knows that, four months short of his 36th birthday, he can not take his fitness for granted. "Let's see what's happening in those four tournaments".
Federer has a little more pop after switching to a larger racket, but it was his commitment to be more aggressive that has made the bigger difference. It's still early days in the season and a lot could change, but while it doesn't, let us sit back, relax and enjoy the Federer-Nadal experience.
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