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Tennis • New Venue, Same Roger Federer He Rolls To 101st Career Title With Win Over John Isner

Roger Federer of Switzerland poses outside the stadium with his trophy after defeating John Isner of the US following their Men's finals match at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami, Florida, USA, 31 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES

New venue, same Federer: Roger rolls to 101st career title with win over Isner

By Ricky Dimon
John Isner already had enough on his plate facing an opponent against whom he had never broken serve a single time in six previous head-to-head encounters away from clay. An injury hampered his chances to an even greater extent.

Roger Federer maintained his awesome form and capitalized on a hobbled Isner to coast 6-1, 6-4 in the Miami Open championship match on Sunday. Federer won all 20 of his first-serve points and dropped only three service points in total while triumphing in one hour and three minutes.

Isner, Miami’s defending champion, got off to the worst possible start with a surprising donation of serve in the very first game. He never came close to getting back in the set, during which he won a mere one return point and eventually got broken twice more.

Even though a foot problem popped up in the second, Isner at least managed to make it more competitive. Federer continued to hold serve with ease but could not achieve a breakthrough until the 10th game. With Isner serving down championship point at 30-40, 4-5, an extended rally ended when the 33-year-old struck a down-the-line backhand that Federer could not retrieve.

But it was all over when a challenge showed Isner’s shot to have sailed just long.

For Federer, it is title No. 101 in his illustrious career (fourth at this Masters 1000 tournament) and a stark contrast from last season’s immediate exit from the Miami Open in the form of a second-round upset loss at the hands of Thanasi Kokkanikis.

At a new–some say even better–venue in Miami Gardens instead of on Key Biscayne, it was an even better Federer.

“I’m happy I chose to come back this year,” the 20-time major champion assured. “It’s easy just to say, ‘Well, last year didn’t work out so I won’t come back this year.’ And, as I’m playing the clay, maybe add rather another clay-court event. But I felt like, ‘Let’s extend the hard-court season. Let’s see the new venue. To be honest, I think that was something also I was excited to see. I did feel like [my] game was there last year. And I thought also [my] game was definitely here this year, as well, even after the (early loss at the) Australian Open. So I’m happy with the team we took the right decision.”

It was the wrong decision for Isner’s repeat chances. The world No. 9 had been 10-0 in sets during his Miami run and 9-0 in tiebreakers, but he could not even get to a tiebreaker against Federer.

“It’s a terrible feeling, because you’re on an island out there, and you have no teammates to hide behind and going up against the greatest player ever, playing in this incredible atmosphere, and my foot’s killing me,” Isner explained. “Not that I would have won the match, anyways, let’s make that clear, but I think I could have made for a more interesting match and one that was a little more fun.

“I think the players have enjoyed [the new venue]. I think the fans have enjoyed it, as well. Really simply amazing. I just wish I could have given them a little bit better match out there today.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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