Federer to face Isner in Miami Open final

Roger Federer cruised into his fifth Miami Open final with an impressive 6-2, 6-4 victory against Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov on Friday.

Federer was dominant in service and broke the 19-year-old three times to set up a final with American John Isner, who beat 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).

“I enjoyed it. I think I played very well. I had to,” Federer told reporters. “Because I think when you let Denis play, he's got some serious power, and he gets rhythm going. He can really put you in uncomfortable situations. So I think I did well, and I'm very happy how I played.”

Federer leads his ATP Head to Head series with Isner 5-2, including a straight-sets win during the 2012 BNP Paribas Open final. Isner, however has yet to drop a set this fortnight and is 9-0 in tie-breaks.

Shapovalov was on the board early, despite the nerves that can come with playing your idol for the first time. But the good feelings didn't last, as Federer broke in the third game when Shapovalov shanked a backhand.

The teenager finished the opener with 20 unforced errors. Federer, meanwhile, picked up where he finished with Kevin Anderson on Thursday night, smacking crosscourt forehand winners and pressuring Shapovalov to pass. The Swiss hit only four unforced errors in the opener.

Shapovalov came back from a set down three times to reach the semi-finals, including during his quarter-final against American Frances Tiafoe. And the Canadian held to start the second. But Federer broke in the third game again and served his way into the final.

“It's surreal, being on the court against him," Shapovalov said. "Obviously I wasn't trying to focus on the fact that it's Roger on the other side. I was just trying to play as good as I can, and he did a good job today. He played an excellent match. I wasn't able to kind of stay at his level. I'm just going to try to learn from this and move forward.”

The 37-year-old Federer has now reached the most Masters 1000 finals in history with 50 (27-22). Spain's Rafael Nadal has made 49 finals at the prestigious level (33-16).

The question that might determine if Federer wins his 28th ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday: How many serves can he stop from hitting the back wall from Isner?

“I honestly love big servers, to watch them, to see if they're going to ace every second or third point. For me, that's exciting because it's like a penalty shootout in football, it's just in tennis,” Federer said during his on-court interview with ESPN. “I'll be the goalie on Sunday. I'll try my very best. I'll try to get as many balls back as possible.

“I know what to expect - that he will not miss many serves. He's got an amazing serve. One of the best in the game. It's really hard to play against him.

“Hopefully we'll have a good match,” Federer told ESPN. “I'm excited to play John because he really had a tough match against Felix today. That was an awesome performance by him.”

Date: 30 March 2019, Source: Reuters and ATP


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