Nadal Tops Federer To Set Djokovic Final
by Matt Fitzgerald|
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal produced one of his best performances against chief rival Roger Federer on a hard court, knocking out the two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion 6-3, 6-2 to advance into his third career final in Miami. The win evens their hard court head-to-head series at four wins apiece, and Nadal now owns a 2-1 advantage over the Swiss in the United States, with all of their meetings coming at Crandon Park. “In general, I think I played a very, very good match, very solid and serious,” said a pleased Nadal. "The first set especially I think I played very, very good.”
The Spaniard was practically unbeatable on serve, especially in the first set, winning 16 of his 18 service points. The World No. 1 was effective in his return games, taking both break point opportunities to wrap up the opening set in 34 minutes.
Federer earned his first break point opportunity of the match on Nadal’s opening service game of the second set but didn’t convert. The Spaniard was back to work again, breaking Federer to move ahead 2-0 and it was pretty much over from then on. Fans of the 16-time major champion did their best to pump up their favorite player – chants of ‘Roger, Roger’ echoed throughout the 14,638-person crowd - but he was unable to find any rhythm, cracking far more unforced errors than winners.
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While Nadal played well, Federer made uncharacteristic mistakes, on both wings, framing several shots and missing spots he normally hits. “I had a few mini chances, which against Rafa I was down right away,” said Federer. “From then it was an uphill battle. When I did have chances I played poorly and he came up with some good stuff. Off night for me, unfortunately.”
Nadal echoed similar thoughts. “[In the] second set I think he played worse. He had more mistakes than usual. He tried to play shorter points, so I think second set he didn't play well.”
“I was playing very good from the baseline, without mistakes with my forehand, playing aggressive, so wasn't an easy situation [for him] when [he was] back all the time in the score.”
In the final, Nadal will play World No. 2 Novak Djokovic in a rematch of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells two weeks ago. Djokovic won that contest in three sets and has won 25 consecutive matches, 23 of which have come in 2011. “I felt I had a chance last week in Indian Wells,” Nadal said Friday night.
“I lost a little bit the focus and the rhythm in the second set, the intensity of the legs and of the shots, so I started to play a little bit more defensive. Against a player like Novak, it’s impossible to win the match playing like this.”
It’s the first time since 1995 that Indian Wells and Miami feature the same two finalists. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras advanced to both finals 16 years ago, splitting the tournaments – Sampras won at Indian Wells and Agassi avenged the loss in Miami.