ThrowbackTimes Miami: Roger Federer edges Kyrgios to pass Rafael Nadal

In 2015, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios played a memorable match in Madrid that went down to the wire, with Nick prevailing 14-12 in the deciding set tie break. Two years later, Nick had to give Roger a walkover due to an injury in Indian Wells, recovering and playing on a high level two weeks later in Miami to advance into the semi-final and set another meeting against the Swiss. Just like in Madrid, the clash went down to the wire, and it was Roger who prevailed 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5) after three hours and ten minutes for his fourth Miami final and the first since 2006, arranging a meeting with his great rival Rafael Nadal. Federer and Kyrgios broke each other once in the opening set and pushed each other to the limits in the rest of the encounter to reach only seven deuces in sets two and three, serving well and keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats. In the end, Roger claimed the final set tie break 7-5, with Nick hitting a double fault at 5-5 to ruin his chances of reaching the first Masters 1000 final.

It was the 18th victory for Roger from 19 matches in 2017, making his best start of the season since 2006 and reaching the final at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami for the first time since the mentioned season. Also, it was his 44th Masters 1000 final, leaving his great rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on 43 to top the charts. Roger had 54 winners and 39 unforced errors and faced only two break points in the entire match, while Nick stood on a solid 38-34 ratio, giving his best to endure all the efforts and cross the finish line first. Kyrgios had a slim lead in the shortest points (92-85), and Roger showed his class in the more extended ones, with a 55-38 advantage on his tally. An 18-time Major champion had seven break chances (only two in sets two and three), converting one as Kyrgios refused to surrender until the very last point.

In Miami 2017, Roger Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios in three tie breaks.

The Aussie demonstrated his immense talent and a complete tennis package that contains shot-making, athleticism, improvisation, courage, the ability to bring his A-game against the biggest rivals and his serve, although it wasn’t enough against Roger on that glorious Miami night. The players needed some time to find the right rhythm in the opening set, and Nick had to work hard to stay alive until the tie break after facing five break chances. Roger was off to a great start, dropping just two points in the opening three service games and wasting three break opportunities in the first two return games, missing a chance to build an early lead and gain momentum. Instead of that, Kyrgios was the one who drew first blood with a break in game seven, opening a 5-3 lead and forcing three deuces in the next return game, unable to grab another break and a boost. The Aussie got broken at love while serving for the set in game ten and saved a set point at 5-6 before entering a tie break.

It was a wild one, just like the previous one they played in Madrid, and Roger grabbed it 11-9, fending off two set points and scoring two mini-breaks in the last two return points when Nick served to take the set. The second set was more fluid, and despite losing only seven points in his games, Federer found himself on the losing side by an identical score in the tie break! He had four straight holds at love and a huge opportunity to break Nick at 3-3 and close the match much earlier, but the Aussie refused to go away, repelling them to stay in touch and force another tie break. It could hardly be a more dramatic one, as Kyrgios saved two match points at 5-6 and 7-8 to hang in before seizing his third set point to steal the breaker 11-9 and force a decider with an ace. There were no break chances in the final set (three deuces on Nick’s serve), and even though the intensity dropped a bit, they were still on a very high note, setting the tone for the final set tie break.

Roger lost just six points in six service games, hoping to win another deciding tie break like against Tomas Berdych a day earlier. Nick opened it more strongly and scored a mini-break for a 3-1 lead before Roger annulled that to lock the result at 3-3, with every remaining point carrying massive weight. Kyrgios got a chance to finish on the victorious side after another mini-break in his bag, leading 5-4 but losing the following two points on serve to find himself 6-5 down after a fatal double fault. Roger didn’t miss his opportunity, though, firing a service winner that brought him the victory after a titanic battle. The Swiss proved his greatness once again and set the 37th meeting against Rafael Nadal, winning the previous three clashes against the Spaniard.

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