Federer cuts Isner down to size in Miami final

Roger Federer beat an ailing John Isner 6-1 6-4 to capture his fourth Miami Open title. The Swiss was in full flight from the off at the Hard Rock Stadium, breaking the American’s serve three times as he raced through the opening set, winning it 6-1 inside 24 minutes. Federer added a little extra salt in the wound by holding serve to love in the opening two games of the second set. At that stage, Isner had won only a single point against the Federer serve. But things were about to take a turn for the worse for the North Carolinian.

The defending champion looked to be suffering with real pain in his left foot, even asking the trainer during the changeover if it might be broken. Unsurprisingly then, he was barely able to move, giving the match the feel of an execution more than a contest. By the final game, Isner, despite the fulsome support of the crowd, had nothing left to give, striking a backhand long down championship point. A victorious Federer celebrated by raising his arms aloft as he picked up his 28th Masters 1000 title.

With his win, Federer becomes the oldest champion in the history of the Miami Open, breaking his own record from two years ago. He also took his tally to 101 singles titles as well as the lead in the ATP Race to London in 2019, suggesting he could well be a real factor in the battle for the year-end #1. That is despite having made a slow start to the year, which included losing in the fourth round to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, where he was defending champion.

Since then, however, he has been near perfect. A 100th career singles title in Dubai was followed by a runner-up showing in Indian Wells, where it took an inspired Dominic Thiem to deny him the title. In Miami, he did have to survive an opening-round scare against the in-form Radu Albot, but produced a series of scintillating displays thereafter to dismiss Daniil Medvedev, Kevin Anderson and Denis Shapovalov, all in straight sets, en route to the final.

There Federer replicated his dominance from the previous rounds, taming one of the great serves in the game. He continuously took Isner out of his comfort zone, forcing the hampered American to attempt desperate winners or foolhardy charges to the net. Isner never looked comfortable in the forecourt and Federer made him pay, cutting through his attempts to defend the net with ease, highlighted by a stunning forehand passing shot in the first set to give Federer his second break of serve.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner was wary of letting his lead slip, particularly after failing to keep Thiem from rallying past him in the Indian Wells final. But in truth, the injured Isner rarely looked like mounting such a comeback. Particularly with Federer’s serve so impregnable. The American tried to make the final competitive in the second set, but without being able to move properly, he could offer little resistance. Indeed, when Federer broke at the last to seal a 6-1 6-4 win, it was, more than anything, a mercy killing.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Congratulations, Roger. And thanks, Felix Auger-Aliassime for the preview and reminder that Isner could indeed lose his serve in this tournament.

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