Result: Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-4
It might have seemed improbable at the start of the year, but the first three months of the 2017 tennis season has seen Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal three times – twice in tournament finals (Australian Open and Miami).
Their meeting in the Miami Open final — the 37th time the pair have squared off — had particular resonance. This was the event where they played their first two matches; the first in 2004 going Nadal’s way, the second seeing Federer come back from two sets down to win the title in 2005 (back then, Masters finals were best of five sets).
While fans might have been hoping for another nailbiting final, the reality was that Federer was always in control in Miami. We’re going to take a closer look at how the No.4 seed took his 2017 record against Nadal to 3-0.
Set 1: 6-3
You know that we’re into a new era in the Fedal rivalry when Roger is the favourite going into the match. That was the case in Miami, where the No.4 seed had a pre-match win probability of 53%.
When we track the momentum of the match, we can see that the real battle took place in the first set. There were 19 points that increased Federer’s win probability by more than 8 percentage points, establishing a trend that would not waver through the second set.
Games one, four and eight saw the biggest momentum shifts in the opening set. The first game of the match was the only on Federer’s serve where the Swiss star had to defend break points.
Having done so, the set could have gone either way until the first break in the eighth game, which brought Federer’s win chances to 75%.
Set 2: 6-4
Federer not only carried an 85% win probability going into the second set, but had the momentum too. This showed on the serve, where he didn’t face any significant threats. It took him three opportunities over nine game, but he was able to break Nadal’s serve and increase his win probability enormously.
Federer’s win in Miami represents more than just a Masters title. It puts him in a dominant 3-0 position against his long-standing nemesis, Rafael Nadal. That could be a game changer at Roland Garros, and may open the door to possible run at a second French title.
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