Roger Federer defeated a hobbling John Isner 6-1 6-4 for his 101th career title at the Miami Open on Sunday. Holder Isner struggled to continue late in the second set, hampered by pain in his left foot.
Federer, who won his fourth Miami title, broke Isner three times in a blazing opening set.
“It was a dream start, relaxing my nerves,” the Swiss, 37, said in a courtside interview.
But the American fought back in the second, levelling the set at 3-3 and 4-4 before the pain made it difficult to continue. Federer took the final two games for the victory.
“What a week its been for me,” said the fourth seed. “I’m just so happy right now. It’s unbelievable. I played here in 1999 for the first time and here I am in 2019. It means a lot to me.”
Only American Jimmy Connors, with 109, has more career singles titles than Federer.
Isner began to feel pain in the first set.
“I started feeling some pain on the top of my foot, and it didn’t go away. It only kept getting worse,” he said. “I have never had anything like this before, ever.”
Even before the injury slowed the seventh-seeded American, Federer was the master, tempering Isner’s big serves and winning 32 of 35 points on his own serve
“Roger was too good,” Isner said. “In the first five games, I was fine. Nothing was bothering me. He was all over me.”
Federer elected to receive to open the match and the strategy paid off as he broke Isner.
The American held on the third game but Federer took the next four.
Isner played much better in the second set but in the end the pain became too much, even with a medical examination after the seventh game. “I knew at 3-4, whatever, I knew I wasn’t going to win. I can tell you that much,” said Isner. “Which is a weird feeling, you know, being on serve in the finals of a match and knowing that I wasn’t going to win.”
Federer also sensed the American was in trouble.
“I knew it was going to be something that was not right. The way he was moving was not well,” Federer said.
“But at the same time I have got to make him work hard, keep doing my things.”
The title was Federer’s second of the year, coming after his historic 100th win in Doha in February.
Time and Federer march on
After Roger Federer racked up career title 101 with a clinical 6-1 6-4 dissection of John Isner at the Miami Open on Sunday, the American defending champion seemed as keen as the crowd for the Swiss to carry on competing for titles.
“We all want you to keep playing and never retire,” gushed Isner after being brushed aside in 63 minutes by the fourth-seeded Swiss.
This seems an odd statement from a player who has now been beaten six times by Federer in eight career meetings.
A more honest response might have been, “Roger you have won enough please go away”.
Federer has already amassed a record 20 Grand Slam trophies and Miami was his 101st career title leaving him just eight shy of matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time mark.
The Swiss has said he is not yet thinking about the record and neither is he contemplating retirement.
At 37, the retirement question is one that comes up for Federer before every event and after it – win or lose — as it did in Miami. His answer is always the same, “Why should I?”
The evergreen Federer is healthy, happy and winning.
With Sunday’s triumph – his fourth in Miami – he is the only player on the ATP or WTA Tour to capture two titles this season.
It has been a marvellous March for Federer, starting with a win in Dubai and ending with victory in Miami. It could have been even better with a runner-up spot at Indian Wells having been sandwiched between the two titles.
“This is why I am still playing to hopefully win big titles like here in Miami,” said Federer in a post-match interview. “It just shows me the process I am going through is the right one.
“I am still able to prioritise all the things in my life the right way.”
Federer has discovered the secret to career longevity that other members of the Big Four have not quite figured out.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who failed to make the quarter-finals at Miami or Indian Wells, is struggling with off-court issues, Rafa Nadal is again battling knee problems, while Andy Murray is recovering from hip surgery that may have sent him into retirement.
And Federer? The Swiss maestro just keeps ticking along like one of his country’s famous time pieces.
“I am really excited about the transition I was able to make,” he said. “With an older body maybe you move differently, you see it with Rafa too, he doesn’t chase down the balls the same way he used to so you adjust to that.”
Federer listens closely to what his body is saying and after reaching three consecutive finals it is telling him that it is time for a rest before he tackles the European clay court season for the first time in three years.
“The clay is going to be a really interesting challenge for me,” said the Swiss, who will take four or five weeks off before returning in Madrid. “If things don’t go well then that was expected maybe, but if they do than I am really excited.”