MIAMI – Roger Federer lifted the 101st title of his remarkable career on Sunday in dominating style, beating ATP Miami Open defending champion John Isner 6-1, 6-4.
Federer, who has skipped the whole clay court season for the past two years, declared the triumph over the big-serving American in just 63 minutes was an ideal performance from which to launch a French Open bid.
“I will have to take baby steps going back onto the clay, I have played so little in the last few years so I don’t know what to expect but what this win does is takes even more pressure off me,” Federer said.
“Already just how I’ve been playing and moving here makes me believe just going on vacation now, a bit of a break, and then preparation, you physically I should be fine, but again, we’ll see how the body is going to react.
“I am excited. It’s a good challenge,” added Federer of trying to dethrone Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros when the second Grand Slam of the season begins on May 26.
Federer has been in brilliant form in South Florida, recovering superbly from losing the final in Indian Wells earlier this month to emphatically beat Isner, who was badly struggling with a foot problem at the end of the title match at Hard Rock Stadium.
Federer will not appear at the next Masters event in Monte Carlo but is slated to play in Madrid at the beginning of May.
“Madrid will be ‘let’s see what happens’ and then obviously I want to be ready for Paris and I hope all that hard work is going to pay off for the grass and hard court season,” he said.
Against Isner, Federer seized control immediately as a break in the very first game sapped Isner’s confidence and allowed Federer to aggressively gain control of a match which he never looked like losing, especially after the American’s foot problem worsened.
Isner was struggling badly and was heard telling the trainer during a medical timeout that he feared he had broken his foot.
“Somewhere during the first set I started feeling pain on top of my foot and it didn’t go away and it just got worse,” Isner said.
Isner’s spirit was crushed after he dropped the first set in only 23 minutes.
“It’s a terrible feeling, because you’re on an island out there. You have no teammates to hide behind going up against the greatest player ever, you know, playing in this incredible atmosphere, and my foot’s killing me.
“I have never had a broken foot, but that’s what I would imagine it would feel like.
“Not that I would have won the match but I could have made for a more interesting match and one that was a little more fun.”
‘Appreciate these moments’
This was Federer’s 154th tour final and his 50th ATP Masters showpiece appearance. He’s in the twilight of his stellar career but has no plans to hang up his racket just yet.
“In terms of goals, it’s about trying to win titles and trying to manage life so I stay injury-free,” the former world number one said.
“Some days you just don’t feel so well but this is a good phase, a good stretch for me right now. I really feel super healthy. That’s why I have been able to play every day for the last four weeks. That’s something that maybe hasn’t always been the case for the last few years.
"So you appreciate these moments.”
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Isner’s booming serve failed to fire and there was to be no repeat of their last meeting at the Paris Masters 2015 when Federer was defeated in a third round encounter.
To give the Swiss eight break chances in the first set spoke volumes about the sudden ineffectiveness of the Isner service game – he took only 50% of points on his first serve during the opener.
With Isner hurting, Federer, who finished with a perfect 100% of points won on his first serve, wasted no time in the second set wrapping up his 28th Masters title.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)