Miami Open 2019: Roger Federer bags 101st career title with win over John Isner
Roger Federer had been in exceptional form over the last one week, and he took the stage at the Miami Open final with a huge bolt of confidence. That showed in his play as he won his fourth Miami title by beating John Isner 6-1, 6-4.
25 minutes on the clock and the first set was taken away from Isner by the Swiss maestro - such was his dominance right from the first game. He made his intentions quite clear by electing to receive after winning the coin toss, and putting pressure on the American's serve from the word go.
Federer's strategy worked wonders as he broke Isner's serve in the first game itself and extended the score to 2-0 after holding comfortably.
Unlike say Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, the defensive skills of Federer are not celebrated too often. However, this match was an example that Federer is great in all the aspects of the sport - in attack as well as defense.
Federer's return percentage against Isner's mammoth serve in the first set was a staggering 89%. By the time Isner could realize what was happening, Federer had a lead of 4-1 and was storming to close the set as well as the match.
He broke Isner for a third time in the set and won it 6-1 in less than half an hour.
Federer hit 7 winners and only 2 unforced errors in that first set whereas Isner hit 6 winners and 8 unforced errors. Federer's first serve percentage was just 54 when compared with Isner's 61%, and yet he never looked remotely in danger on serve.
One more astonishing fact was that up until 4-1 in the first set, Isner had won just 10 out of 20 points on his serve while Federer had won 8 out of 9 points on his. In other words, the Swiss had won more points while returning than serving, which is just not normal.
Isner regained a bit of his rhythm in the second set, but the way he had been crushed in the first set coupled with the overwhelming crowd support for Federer made it an arduous task for him. Still, he held serve firmly with a bunch of serves finding the lines perfectly.
Both the players held until 4-3 in the set, which was when Isner took treatment for what appeared to be a mild cramp on his left toe but later proved to be a stress fracture. The American was almost limping during the rallies but somehow managed to hold his serve and level the score 4-4.
Soon after that, Isner had to serve to stay in the match at 4-5 and he was unable to even place his serve properly. He was struggling to stand while the crowd encouraged him to play on and complete the match. He eventually made a backhand error on match point to hand victory to the Swiss.
Barring the last game which was not competitive, Federer's unpredictable playing style proved to be too good for Isner. Everyone expected tie-breakers in this match but Federer never gave his opponent any time to recoup or bounce back after that first break of serve in the first set.
One more positive aspect for Federer was his movement on the court. Compared with the recent tournaments that he has played in, Federer's movement in Miami was fabulous. At times his play was reminiscent of the resurgent Federer in 2017, where he was the favorite in every tournament he entered.
With this win, Federer takes his title count to 101, and is inching closer to Jimmy Connors' record of 109.