(March 30, 2017) Rafael Nadal reached his fifth Miami Open final beating Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5 during the day session. Nadal will try to win his first Miami final against Roger Federer, who defeated Nick Kyrgios in a three-hour and nine-minute epic match in the evening session 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5).
No. 5 seed Nadal lost all four previous finals in Key Biscayne in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.
No. 4 seed Federer won titles in Miami in 2005 and 2006. His last title victory in Miami came against his current coach Ivan Ljubicic.
“He’s on such a good run, he’s such a great player, so it was a special feeling,” Federer said in his on-court interview.
“I kept fighting and believing, tried to stay aggressive.
“It was a nail biter and could have gone either way.”
“I think my game is there but I have to keep putting the mental part of it first,” Kyrgios said to media.
“Wasn’t expecting anything less of this match, the crowd. Created enough chances, felt it was on my racquet”
“I think my game is there but I have to keep putting the mental part of it first.”
“It was a tough match,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously played over three hours. Wasn’t expecting less, to be honest. He’s obviously the crowd favorite anywhere he plays obviously with what he’s done for the game.
“But I thought I was responding well to the crowd. Obviously serving for the first set. Hadn’t been broken in three matches, felt good. But I, mean, I created enough opportunity to win that match. I felt like it was on my racquet most of the time.
“He was playing great. Yeah, the crowd was obviously on his side, but I think I have to win a little bit more to start getting them on my side.”
“To stay healthy; that’s my main goal,” noted Kyrgios. “Playing a lot through the clay season so I to need to look after my body.
“I got Davis Cup next week. That’s my focus now. I am not going to think past that at all. We got a big tie against the USA. Obviously Jack is playing unbelievable. John, he’s a proven player. They’ve got a great team.
“That’s all I’m thinking about at the moment. Just staying injury-free, trying to get better. I felt like my game is there. Just mentally I got to keep putting in every day.”
“I showed a lot of fight,” Kyrgios said in regard to the match. “I thought I competed for every point.
“Obviously I’m an emotional guy. I had some ups and up and downs, bit of a roller coaster. Ultimately I think I put in a good performance. I thought the crowd would’ve enjoyed watching it, people at home would’ve enjoyed watching it.
“As I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found something bad, though.”
“I think people are really getting to know him now,” Federer said of his 21-year-old opponent. “They see him play more often. It’s his second, third year on tour now, so he’s coming back for the second, third year now to tournaments, which is good. You really see how he’s evolving as a player and person.
“I think it’s exciting following youngster because they change the look a lot or try out things, play differently; they get to know their game much better.
“He’s clearly got a big time game; he has one of the best serves in the game. He’s got great focus now on his serve, which I like to see. You know, it’s just going to take time for him to really be able to focus point for point and improve that.
“But you’re right, the crowds jump on it pretty quickly. But it makes for a good atmosphere I guess at the end of the day, so it’s not all that bad. Of course I think he’s good for the game at the end of game.”
This was seventh time in Roger Federer’s career that he has played all tie-breaks in best-of-three sets match. He has a 5-2 record in those matches.
Federer rallied from a break down in the first set and had match points in the second set tiebreaker, but could not convert.
Nadal on his straightforward contest with Fognini: “I think I played a very good first set. He had mistakes obviously.
“In the second is not about losing the concentration, it’s about not being lucky at the beginning of the second set. With the normal situation, the normal thing is have a break at the beginning of the second. I had so many chances, but then situation changes, no?
“But when you don’t convert opportunities you’re in trouble, and that’s what happened. Especially with these conditions out there, a lot of wind. And with Fabio, who is a player that he is able to combine great points with mistakes then, you know, the match became strange, not a lot of rhythm, and then end of the second set was tough.”
“I served well. My serve worked well. I think I didn’t face a break point again during the whole match, so that is something that I am very happy with. That’s give you calm when you have opportunities on the return and you don’t convert.”
In one the more unusual situations on court, the 14-time major winner ran out of his shoe in the second set.
“I don’t know,” Nadal said responding to the incident. “Is strange because happened twice. In one month happened two times. I don’t know where the other time — practice. But practicing, not competing. I don’t know. Maybe I need to put tie stronger, but I don’t know. I don’t know how the shoe goes out. I have to check again.”
“Winning here will be something great and something that’s an important title that I didn’t win.
“But winning or losing, being honest, not going to change my career. Just helps to add something important for me and that’s it.
“I am very happy about the first part of the season on hard courts before the clay arrives. I won a lot of matches. I have a lot of points. I am in a privileged position of the race. That’s a great news for me and give me calm to play the next couple of tournaments.
“At the same time, I needed to play well at the beginning of the season because I didn’t have points the second half of the season on the computer, so I had a good chance to go back a lot on the ranking. That will not happen a lot probably. I can lose — I am still defending a lot of points on clay the next four tournaments, especially first three ones.”
For Fognini, the husband of 2015 U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta, this was the unseeded player’s first Masters 1000 semifinal.
“I think I was missing a lot of balls,” he said. “That’s for sure, because I am giving like a present the first set to Rafa Nadal 6-1. It’s difficult to compete after. Even if I play much better the second set; I had my chance.
“I was really surprise about his serve, that he serve really, really good today. And of course no, me no.
“And at the end, I think we have a great fighting, even if he had more chance than me on the second set. I think I had bad luck, especially on that dropshot that was unbelievable, it was really good, on 3-All.”
The fifth seed Nadal leads the ATP World Tour in wins on the season with a 19-4 record.
“It’s great to be in the final for me,” said Nadal. “For me doesn’t matter the opponent. I am happy to be in that final again, and I am excited to play another final of on important event.
“So if it’s Roger, going to be another one for both of us, and that’s it. Just another one.”
“I think back to 2004, I just came off winning Indian Wells and I played the youngster Nadal, and I ended up losing,” Federer said on court.
“You could tell he was definitely going to win the French. The following year we played in the final and I should have lost, somehow, I won, he should have Miami titles and he doesn’t, so it’s going to be super special playing against him in the final.”
“When I came to Miami I just thought, Ahhh, this is probably again — like I did in Indian Wells and in Australia,” Federer said to media. “I just thought eventually it’s just going to catch up with me. Miami is probably not going to work that well because it’s slower. I already won Indian Wells.
“So let’s be realistic here. Semis would be an unbelievable run. Here we are in the finals and I get a chance to win the tournament. Still I feel like there is a mountain to climb in Rafa. He’s not won it yet before. He’s definitely feeling fresher than I feel right now. That’s not a problem. I’ll be ready on Sunday.
“Should be really exciting because we had this epic match in 2005. The finals was unbelievable. It was a turning point in my career, to be quite honest. For me to be able to focus for, I don’t know how long we played, maybe four hours, smashing forehand after forehand down the line I remember, I felt like I had to learn how to fight in matches, and there I showed it to myself and my team that I could do it.
“It was against somebody who ended up being my biggest rival. It’s definitely going to be very special playing Rafa here again. Of course I’m thrilled for him as well that he came back as well as he did after the comeback, the struggles that he had last year. Feels like old times. We’re playing each other every week now. We can’t get enough of each other.
“Yeah, hopefully it’s not our last match.”
Federer is now 18-1 on the year, his best start to a season since 2006.
The final between the “thirty-somethings,” 35-yearold Federer and 30-year-old Nadal, will be played on Sunday afternoon. Nadal holds a 23-13 head-to-head record against Federer.