After not meeting at all in 2016 and both players contemplating the near-end of their careers, it’s been a fabulous season for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It’s only April and we have already gotten three Fedal matches in 2017, two of which are finals!
To prepare for their upcoming clash in Miami, we analyze four things to know before this thrilling final.
Nadal leads the H2H against Federer 23-13, but it’s been all Federer so far in 2017.
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) April 1, 2017
Federer is up 2-0 on Nadal this year and he’s won their last three encounters, all of which have come on hard courts. To refresh your memories:
2017 Indian Wells fourth round:
Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3.
2017 Australian Open final:
Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
2015 Basel final:
Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Nadal’s last win against Federer came in the 2014 Australian Open semifinals with a 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 win. The Spaniard has never dropped more than two matches in a row to the Swiss.
Currently on a three-match losing skid, it will be interesting to see what Nadal has planned for their Miami Open final.
2. Sunshine Double
Roger Federer is one match away from a familiar historic victory that only he and Novak Djokovic have accomplished on the ATP World Tour – the Sunshine Double.
Roger Federer has not even been to the Miami final since 2006
when beat his current coach Ivan Ljubicic 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 to win the title
— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) March 24, 2017
The Sunshine Double is when a player wins Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back. Federer has done this twice (2005-2006) and Djokovic has accomplished the feat four times (2011, 2014-2016).
Appropriately, in 2006 Federer won the Australian Open prior to winning the Sunshine Double. He finds himself in the same situation this year. Federer has only dropped two sets en route to the final. The second set in his quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych ended a streak of 17(!) straight sets won by the Swiss.
Federer is currently on an 11-match win streak and is 19-1 on the season (only loss coming to Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai). At 35-years-old, Federer looks to set a record and make his mark in history as the oldest player to achieve the Sunshine Double.
3. First Miami Open in store for Rafa?
The Miami Open trophy is one of the few titles missing from Rafa Nadal’s impressive career resume.
3rd final of the year for Rafael Nadal.
First Masters 1000 final on hardcourts since Miami 2014!
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) March 31, 2017
The in-form Spaniard is a 3-time finalist in Miami, including 2005 when he lost to Federer en route to Federer’s first Sunshine Double. The other two appearances came in 2011 and 2014 where he fell to Novak Djokovic on both occasions, who was also completing the Sunshine Double.
Given his history, it may be safe to assume Nadal is haunted by these past defeats and wants to put it all behind him as he tries to finally breakthrough in Miami.
Nadal has had a straightforward route to the Miami final, only dropping one set along the way – a bagel to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. Playing some of his best tennis in months (or even years), Nadal will certainly make a strong push for his first title in Florida.
4. Looking ahead
Roger Federer’s current form in 2017 suggests he could achieve a historic accomplishment: completing the Golden Masters Series. To achieve this, a player must win all of the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments a least once, similar to completing the Career Grand Slam.
Federer holds every title except for the Monte Carlo and Paris Masters. Monte Carlo will be played later this month and Federer is absent from the main draw entry list. We will see if a last-minute entry is in store for the Swiss as he chases more history.
Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal will be present in Monte Carlo. The Spaniard, also referred to as “The King of Clay”, will chase his own history this year. A 10th Monte Carlo title, 4th in Madrid, 8th in Rome and 10th Roland Garros crown are all possible for Nadal in the spring.
The Miami Open final will be on Sunday April 2.
Photo via ESPN.