Federer Wins Third Miami Title Over Nadal

In this situation, I usually like to congratulate the winner regardless of who it was but after the unsavory incident that occurred yesterday in the semis between Federer and Kyrgios I find that hard to do.

Yes, Federer is playing very well right now but that is nothing new. He’s been playing very well since 2015.  The only difference is the slump of Djokovic. But it is hard to give credit when you feel like Federer should not have been in the final, to begin with.

In my last post, I said I wanted Federer to win the title but after I saw that incident at 5-4 in the final set tiebreak again I had a change of mind. After my blog went online again yesterday I had a lot of catching up to do and it was late.

I didn’t have time to digest everything that happened. But that incident in the third set tiebreak, the crowd’s behavior in general, and Mirka’s behavior on top of that left a bad taste in my mouth. After Kyrgios lost the first set in a heartbreaking fashion he did incredibly well to win the second set on a tiebreak and get into the position to close the door on Federer at 5-4 in the final set tiebreak.

We can’t say with 100% certainty that Kyrgios would have won the match but that is beside the point anyway. Even though I believe the momentum had changed and Kyrgios would have won the match, it was criminal for the crowd to get involved there.

Some people are saying it’s Kyrgios’ own fault and that he wasn’t mentally strong enough. How can they possibly say that when Kyrgios had recovered from that first set tiebreak all the way to getting into a winning position?

That took incredible mental strength. He was incredibly clutch in the second set tiebreak. He had changed the momentum, all be it in a subtle way that some may not have picked up, and was up breaks twice in the final set tiebreak.

There was a subtle but definite momentum shift. But then someone called out when Kyrgios hit a ball close to the baseline which would distract anyone. Kyrgios completely mishit the next shot and instantly turned around to confront the spectator who made the ludicrous call.

I’m sorry but that is unacceptable and disgraceful behavior that Kyrgios didn’t deserve after how well he fought in the match. People who read my blog know I’m not the biggest Kyrgios fan but to say he deserved it because of who he is is absurd.

Even if one doesn’t like someone one has to respect the mental strength and fight Kyrgios showed against a rampant crowd and at least have the courtesy not to shout out a line call at the most crucial point in the match. Simply unacceptable. End of story.

  • The Federer Cult Went Too Far This Time

I want to give credit where it’s due but I can’t turn a blind eye to an obvious injustice and to ongoing hooligan behavior from the Federer cult. It started getting ridiculous in the US Open final last year and now it continued in Miami.

It’s becoming absurd now to the point that it is affecting the outcome of matches. It is going too far. It went too far in the US Open final last year already but like I said before Djokovic was so good that he didn’t allow it to get close enough for the crowd to affect the outcome of the match.

That doesn’t mean that it was OK and it is certainly not OK now. Then there was the despicable behavior from Mirka as well who whistled at Kyrgios simply because he was changing his racquet, something players do all the time.

The incident in London where she got involved against Stan was even worse. It has gotten ugly and the Federer cult is out of control. I used to be a Federer fan myself and this used to be a Federer blog.

But I couldn’t associate with what had become an out-of-control cult anymore. That is not what a tennis fan is about to me. One can have favorites but one must still respect other players and not act like your player is entitled to winning everything in sight.

Someone like Kyrgios has behaved poorly in the past but he is 21 years old and an unbelievably gifted player who is is also very sensitive. The treatment he received against Federer is neither good for him nor for the future of tennis.

It’s OK to be tough on him when he acts like an obnoxious brat but when he has been consistent as he has been lately and made an effort to get his act together he deserves a chance I think. He is a fragile but rare talent that needs to be nurtured for the health of the future of tennis.

Treating him with disrespect and disdain will only make him more rebellious and careless.

  • About the Final and the Fedal Rivalry

I fell asleep after the first set of this one-sided final and woke up to see Federer had won 6-3, 6-4. I saw that Nadal was still a shadow of his former self, hitting short, and lacking confidence in general.

Even during his Australian Open run where he had good wins over Zverev, Raonic, and Dimitrov, I felt like there was still a certain vulnerability about Nadal. It also became clear in the final where he was a break up in the fifth set against a player who he owned for all intents and purposes, only to lose the match.

Since when does Nadal lose from that situation? I’m pretty sure it has never happened. Since then he lost to Querrey in the Acapulco final, didn’t beat anyone particularly noteworthy in Indian Wells and Miami, and suffered two more heavy losses against someone he previously owned.

I don’t even know why people said he was back. The Australian Open run was good but he still lost in the final and one good run doesn’t mean you are back. It takes a little more than that. I don’t think there is any doubt that Nadal has declined a lot.

His results since 2014 clearly indicate it. He still won the French Open in 2014 and Madrid, but in 2015 his best result was an ATP 500 title and in 2016 he won only two titles including one Masters in Monte Carlo. That is the fewest titles he won in a season since 2004.

Nadal has lost a step and his strokes lack sting, while Federer is arguably a better player than ever. Not to take anything away from Federer. It is not his fault Nadal played the most taxing game style in the history of tennis.

It was bound to catch up with Nadal, while Federer has always had an economic game style and managed his schedule well. But I guess it is still surprising that Federer at 35 has outlasted Nadal at 30 because that is exactly what happened.

With perhaps a slight adjustment to his backhand(which had already been much-improved since he started playing with a bigger head size), Federer has now defeated a Nadal four consecutive times where he previously had no answers.

It seems the rivalry has now gone to the other extreme. Nadal doesn’t have any answers. Federer just picks off his impotent groundstrokes and declined movement at will. Nadal had no say in the last two meetings.

  • Djokovic Makes Strange Decision to Play Davis Cup

I was puzzled to hear that Djokovic would play Davis Cup this coming weekend for Serbia on hard court just a week before Monte Carlo. How often has he struggled with the elbow injury after winning the personal slam?

Had he taken six months off after Wimbledon like Federer he’d probably the one dominating now. I’m still OK with that part, though. What bothers me is that he doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes.

He should not have come back in Acapulco but was over anxious to play and as a result, he missed one of his best events in Miami and allowed Federer to continue his dominance. Now he seems to be making the same mistake.

I wasn’t even sure if he should play Monte Carlo. Isn’t his body telling him something? And to make matters worse the Davis Cup will be on hard court. Shouldn’t he be playing on clay before Monte Carlo?

But what do I know? I’m not him or his doctor. I just know he can’t afford another single slip up if he wants to stop Federer from dominating the entire season. I am pretty sure Nadal or Murray is not gonna stop Federer.

Does Djokovic want Federer to win the calendar slam? Nadal has declined so much I’m not even sure he can beat Federer on clay anymore. The way things are going Federer will be a serious contender for the French Open.

And that is where Djokovic needs to make a stand while he still can. If he waits until the grass court season he won’t be confident enough to stop Federer from winning Wimbledon…

  • Highlights

Federer and Nadal to Face Off in Second Miami Final

First of all, apologies for my blog going offline. If you were frustrated just know that no one was probably more frustrated than me given that I contacted my host weeks in advance of my domain expiring, trying to avoid the situation of my blog going offline.

So I am disappointed with my host Hostgator but in this situation, I will always keep making updates on Facebook. My new domain name ultimatetennisblog.com is not working yet but my host told me it should go live soon in which case my old domain name will become a redirect.

  • A Look Back at the Past Week

Since my blog was offline and I couldn’t make any posts I will take a quick look at what transpired in the last week or so. With both Djokovic and Murray absent from Miami this was yet another chance for Federer and Nadal to continue their 2017 resurrections.

And unlike Indian Wells, they were at opposite sides of the draw. The top two seeds were Wawrinka and Nishikori, though. There was also Raonic who withdrew after winning one match. As for Wawrinka and Nishikori, they lost to Zverev and Fognini respectively.

Zverev then ran into Kyrgios like he did in Indian Wells but this time he put up a much better fight as Kyrgios edged it 6-4, 6-7(9), 6-3 in a brilliant match between the two most promising young stars on the ATP tour.

The tiebreak was something special and this should develop into a very good rivalry in the coming years. Zverev is only still 19 while Kyrgios is a little more experienced at 21. But Zverev is improving fast and I am excited about this player.

There was another match worth mentioning in the top half between Federer and Berdych. Berdych for once played really well against Federer and actually had two match points at 6-4 in the third set tiebreak.

To Federer’s credit, he stayed clutch while Berdych ended the match with a double fault. Even when he is in the zone he manages to choke. That probably sounds harsh but it happens time after time for Berdych against the best players. Nonetheless, it was another high quality and dramatic match.

The bottom half was less exciting with Fognini making a strong run and upsetting Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 and thereby making his second Masters semi-final where he would face his old foe, Nadal.

  • The Semi-Finals

There had already been some great matches this week like the ones between Zverev and Isner and the other two I mentioned and the semis didn’t disappoint. The first semi-final was pretty one-sided with Nadal defeating Fognini 6-1, 7-5.

The second semi-final was anything but one-sided with Federer edging it 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5) in what was surely the match of the year so far. As far as best of three-set matches go anyway.

The Federer vs Kyrgios matchup was always going to be a tough one to call if both players kept up their good form. Both players had brutal quarterfinal matches and played brilliantly to come through them.

Their first meeting was as close as it gets with Kyrgios winning 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12). Incredibly, this meeting went to three tiebreaks too. Fortunately for Federer, this isn’t the worst matchup for him.

Federer has always been good at handling big servers. He is great at using the pace of the big serve by blocking it back and he can also make some unbelievable returns on the stretch. I recall a particular slice backhand return off a massive serve down the tee from Kyrgios on the deuce side.

It was in a tiebreak on a big point but I can’t remember which tiebreak and I can’t find it on the highlights. Maybe one of you can remember and remind me. Either way, he does a much better job than Djokovic at handling Kyrgios’ serve.

Funny how that works because no one would ever claim that Federer is a better returner of serve than Djokovic and it once again shows how much of a match up game tennis is. That doesn’t mean that Kyrgios was an easy opponent for Federer by any means.

This was two players with unlimited talent going at it for 12 rounds in a heavyweight bout for the ages. After Kyrgios came back to win the second set and went up 3-1 and 5-4 in the third set tiebreak with two serves to come I thought he would get the job done but unfortunately, the rampant pro-Federer crowd then got involved but more about that later.

For now, I just want to give Federer credit for some more amazing clutch tennis and for how well he has played so far this year. It’s a bit hard for me to believe actually but one must give credit where it’s due.

I say it for the millionth time: Federer is playing as well as ever, if not better than ever.

  • About the Poor Behavior from Mirka and the Crowd in Miami

I don’t really like bringing this up after such an incredible match but I think it is fair to say something about the crowd and Mirka here. It was clear from the outset that this was another heavy pro-Federer crowd because they were quickly on Kyrgios’ case and behaving poorly in general.

It almost backfired against Federer because with Kyrgios serving at 6-7 in the first set tiebreak the crowd called a ball out from Kyrgios which landed on the baseline after which Federer completely mishit the ball. Federer ended up winning the set anyway.

Then there was the incident with Kyrgios serving at 5-4 in the third set tiebreak where Kyrgios hit a ball close to the baseline and again the crowd called it out. It distracted Kyrgios after which he made an unforced error and also lost the next two points to lose the match.

I’m not a Kyrgios fan but I really sympathized with him at this point and I actually gained respect for him during this match because he did incredibly well to come back after losing the opening set and getting into a winning position. I found it most unfortunate that the crowd got involved yet again.

If it was just one match I would have said Kyrgios probably deserves it because he is no doubt obnoxious but this was clearly not the first time. We have seen this many times with rampant pro-Federer crowds, not in the least of which was in the US Open final last year.

On that occasion, Djokovic didn’t allow Federer to make it close enough for the crowd to come into play but it was unnecessary hooligan behavior nonetheless. This is one of the things that put me off from being a Federer fan.

This cult-like extremist following that acts like they are entitled to everything. I don’t think it has any place in tennis and I think it is bad for the sport. Mirka’s behavior is another thing that bothered me.

The cameras caught her whistling with the rest of the rampant crowd at Kyrgios at one point during the match after he changed his racquet. Again, it is not a one-time thing. There was the incident at the O2 Arena where she also got involved in the match calling Federer’s Davis Cup teammate and friend Stan a crybaby.

That is something I have zero tolerance for and I think Mirka has zero class. It makes me wonder about the ‘classy Federer’ talk as well given that Mirka is his wife. Can’t he put a leash on her or something?

It just gives a bad impression like she feels entitled to everything as if anyone who dares to try and defeat Federer is not worthy of respect. That is the same cult-like mentality the Federer crowds and many of his fans have and which I hate seeing in tennis.

Hooligans belong in football. Tennis is supposed to be a civilized sport.

  • The Final

This post is already very long so I won’t say much here. Federer played the second semis and it was a brutal match but since he had a day of rest I think he is the favorite. The conditions do favor Nadal however and if he wants to finally prove that he is back he must win tomorrow.

If Nadal does win Miami he will collect one of the two Masters titles he has never won the other one being Paris. That would equal him with Djokovic in that regard who only misses Cincinnati from his Masters trophy cabinet.

So personally I am rooting for Federer. I think he deserves it more after having a far tougher draw than Nadal and he seems to have the better of Nadal at this point.

It is hard to believe Federer is even in the position to do the Indian Wells/Miami double at 35 after he already won the Australian Open but that is a topic for another time and I’ve already said some things on Facebook about that.

Looking forward to an interesting final!

Who will win?

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  • Highlights

Djokovic Sets New Masters Titles Record with 6th Miami Title

Another day, another title for the Djoker. It seemingly never ends. Eventually, it will end but probably not before Djokovic has broken every record in tennis.

The latest record that crumbled under his onslaught was the Masters Series title record of 27 previously held by himself and Nadal. Miami was his 28th Masters title and that is a big one folks.

These Masters titles are hard to come by and Djokovic is winning them like they are nothing. He didn’t drop a set throughout the event and made it look easy in the final against Nishikori defeating him 6-3, 6-3.

To demonstrate how difficult it is to win a Masters, the generation of Nishikori, Raonic, and Dimitrov has not won a single Masters title between them. With this title, Djokovic also equalled Agassi’s record 6 Miami titles and became the all-time prize money leader with $98,199,548.

Wow! Soon he will become the first tennis player to win $100 000 000! As I suspected might be the case Djokovic raised his level again for the final. That has been his pattern of late. He had a slow start however because Nishikori broke serve in the opening game.

Nishikori looked ready for the upset and was hitting freely out there, but soon Djokovic started strangling him from the baseline with impeccable depth and consistency. He broke back straight away and broke serve again at 3-2 with a backhand pass up the line.

It was business as usual for the world #1. That said, he followed the break up with a poor service game as it was Nishikori who go the break back straight away this time with an inside-out backhand return winner that painted the line.

4-3. At this point, Djokovic was just steadily tightening the noose around Nishikori’s neck. It is quite a special sight to watch the Djokovic machine go to work and outplay his opponent with sheer quality.

He broke Nishikori again in the next game and this time, he would make no mistake as he served out the first set at 6-3. At the beginning of the second set, it was more of the same as Djokovic broke serve in opportunist fashion.

With the early break in the second set, you figured it was pretty much over. Djokovic was not going to be denied from that position and he got the second break at 5-3 for good measure.

  • Final Thoughts

One keeps repeating the same things about Djokovic and how amazing it is what he is doing but it is justified. It is not out of some misguided fanaticism. I say it as a former player who understands and loves the sport.

It is simply very special and entertaining what he is doing. I know there are plenty of tennis ‘fans’ who can’t appreciate it but as far as I’m concerned they were never tennis fans to begin with. They are the types that worshipped Federer and Nadal out of misguided fanaticism.

That is not what it means to be a tennis fan. That is something else called celebrity worship. Now, I realise that there is a place for liking specific players and personalities. I like specific players and personalities myself.

But if you get so stuck on a certain player or personality that you can’t appreciate other players and personalities then you are not in the realm of tennis fandom anymore. I myself was a huge Federer fan but I’m an even bigger Djokovic fan.

That is because I can appreciate different game styles, personalities, and what he brings to the court. He brings something very different to the court than Federer which is why many Fedfans can’t embrace him as Federer’s successor.

I see that as their problem, not Djokovic’s. Djokovic is better than Federer in many ways. Not just in terms of tennis but in terms of his personality as well. For one thing, he takes losses much better and he seems a lot more authentic to me.

He comes from a tough background and doesn’t have that kind of spoiled/entitlement problem Federer has. He appreciates everything and takes nothing for granted. His on-court personality seems more natural to me as well.

He is not trying to live up to the status quo or the standard set by Federer or Nadal. He is forging his own legacy in the sport and setting a new standard. He is also a perfectionist and not afraid to show emotion and frustration.

This flies in the faces of the Fedal fans who have a set way in their minds of how the world #1 should act, failing to realise that it would just make Djokovic a predictable and boring copy of what has gone before.

Or maybe boredom is exciting for these people. Who knows. All I can say is that I find Djokovic’s approach very exciting and entertaining. He is a real person with a real(and funny) personality. He is not a boring and predictable PR bot of the establishment.

The same can be said about his tennis. He is not spectacular in the sense that Federer or Nadal is. His genius is more subtle and requires a little sophistication as a tennis fan to appreciate. I am astounded by some of the comments I read on Twitter and tennis forums.

People are talking about how boring he is and that he is killing tennis. I just shake my head and realise how little these people understand about tennis. Djokovic is spectacular in a very different and fresh way from Fedal.

Do people always want to watch the same kind of tennis and personalities? Isn’t that boring as hell? I have come to the point where I think tennis would be better off without the hardcore Federer and Nadal fans.

They are not real tennis fans and I have to ask myself why they are still hanging around if tennis is so miserable and boring with Djokovic’s dominance. Surely they have better things to do? Or maybe they are hanging around in the hope that Djokovic would not surpass their heroes?

I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of that happening if I were them. I think it’s likely that Djokovic will surpass both Nadal and Federer. The big test will be the French Open this year. If Djokovic wins that there will be no stopping him.

But either way, he will still dominate for a long time so why would they make themselves miserable? They are probably still waiting around for that one last slam which will put their player out of reach of Djokovic.

Well, I wish them all the best, but again I don’t think that is very likely to happen. Djokovic is an extremely determined individual who wants to become the greatest of all time.

  • Final Final Thoughts

Well before Indian Wells began I think there were quite a few people who doubted whether Djokovic would do the Indian Wells/Miami double again but he did it for an incredible fourth time and is still miles ahead of the rest of the field.

And his biggest rivals seem like less of a threat than ever. Federer, Nadal, Murray, and Wawrinka are all struggling. They all have a lot of work to do during the clay court season if they want to have a shot at stopping Djokovic from winning the French Open.

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Monte Carlo begins in a week and I am already excited for the clay court season. Djokovic has indicated that he will play Madrid this year which I am happy to hear and he will get enough rest in between everything.

It is a bit surreal how he keeps winning everything in sight and the longer he keeps doing it the more exciting and entertaining it is so I hope it just keeps happening. It’s been another entertaining North-American stretch and I hope the real tennis fans enjoyed it as much as I have!

  • Highlights

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