Roger Federer continues to prove he has no reason to go away anytime soon.
So he was taken aback when a reporter asked if making quick work of defending Miami Open champion John Isner in a 6-1, 6-4 men’s singles final on Sunday afternoon would be the perfect way to go out in Miami for the 37-year-old 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“And not come back here?” Federer quipped. “Sure, it’d be the perfect scenario. But as I don’t know what the situation is for next year, I can’t say that. I hope to be back next year, but if I don’t come back ever again, this is a good ending.
“I don’t have to announce anything, and of course, when you win a big title you can always think that way, but I didn’t have any thoughts about this kind of direction in my mind before the event and it won’t change now that I’m sitting here with the trophy.”
The ATP’s fifth-ranked player in the world and tournament No. 4 seed cruised by Isner, the seventh-seeded American, in a final at Hard Rock Stadium that lasted an hour and four minutes.
Federer, whose 20 Grand Slams is most all time, won his fourth Miami Open title and 28th ATP Masters 1000 in a pairing of the last two champions in Miami. He becomes the tournament’s first title winner its new location at Hard Rock after moving from Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne this year.
In a matchup of elite return against elite serve, Federer’s return game gained him an advantage from the start. He broke Isner’s serve to open the match and then again in the fifth and seventh games of the first set, taking it 6-1.
Isner began to get his serve going in the second set, holding his first four serves. As Federer led 40-0 in the ninth game, Isner was began limping with a foot injury. He didn’t move on Federer’s ace that followed to make it 5-4.
As Isner took a seat before serving in what would be the decisive game, cameras showed him apparently saying “I can’t move” before trainers attended to him. His mobility was hindered in the final game as Federer broke his serve once more for the match. A final Isner forehand, originally called in, was overturned upon review as going long to give Federer the match and the trophy.
Isner said during the first set he began feeling pain in the top of the foot.
“It didn’t go away. It only kept getting worse,” he said. “It’s a terrible feeling because you’re on an island out there and you have no teammates to hide behind going up against the greatest player ever.
“I wouldn’t have won the match anyway. Let’s make that clear. But I think I could’ve made for a more interesting match and one that was a little more fun.”
Federer was virtually immaculate when serving, as well. Although registering just six aces to Isner’s nine, he was not broken once, won all 20 of his first-serve points and 12 of 15 second-serve points. Federer had 17 winners to Isner’s 13 while Isner had 16 unforced errors.
“I was very clear on how I wanted to play,” Federer said. “I could be very happy on either end – return and serve – and that’s why I’m so happy I was so able to produce and perform in a final.”
Federer snapped Isner’s 11-match Miami Open win streak as the defending champ was rolling into Sunday without dropping a set all tournament. Despite the dominance, Isner had required tiebreakers in nine of his 10 sets entering the final.
Isner, ranked world No. 9 and whose only other ATP Masters 1000 victory was last year in Key Biscayne, entered Sunday holding serve 56 of 60 times (93 percent) during the tournament. Federer returned 89 percent of Isner’s first-set serves and Isner had eight unforced errors in the opening set.
It was an inspirational run through the main draw for Federer, who didn’t lose a set after his first opponent, upstart Moldovan Radu Albot, won the first set against him before eventually bowing out. Albot won his first ATP title at the Delray Beach Open in February.
Since undergoing knee surgery in 2016, Federer has now won 13 ATP Tour titles, including three Grand Slams. Sunday’s victory made it his fourth Masters 1000 title after critics wondered if the Swiss star could return to the top of his game following the surgery. Before his 2017 Miami Open title, he also won it in 2005 and 2006.
While his 28 Masters 1000 titles rank third behind Rafael Nadal (33) and Novak Djokovic (32), his 50 final appearances in such tournaments is a record.
Mertens-Sabalenka win women’s doubles
The duo of Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won the women’s doubles final over Australia’s Samantha Stosur and China’s Zhang Shuai, who were seeded sixth, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on stadium court later Sunday afternoon.
Mertens and Sabalenka won four break points while saving four of six break points against them. They combined for six aces.
The tandem also had impressive victories over third-seeded Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova and the fifth-seeded duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu this Miami Open.