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.
— Giorgio Spalluto (@GeorgeSpalluto) March 30, 2017
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.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) April 1, 2017
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.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) April 1, 2017
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.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) April 1, 2017
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.
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) April 1, 2017
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.
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) April 1, 2017
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!