MIAMI: Swiss superman Roger Federer rallied from two sets to love down to subdue Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal 2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1 here on Sunday and claim the ATP Masters Series title at Key Biscayne.
Federer, the world number one who claimed his fifth title of the year, won his 22nd straight match and extended his 2005 record to an astonishing 32-1, but Nadal made him work every step of the way.
“I really didn't expect to turn it around,” admitted Federer after the 3hr 42min marathon. “I haven't dug out many matches in my career. I'm extremely happy, and exhausted.
“What a pity for him,” Federer added with a flash of empathy. “But we'll see much more from him I'm sure.”
Nadal, appearing in his first Masters Series final and bidding for the first hard court title of his career after four triumphs on clay, broke Federer for a 3-1 lead in the third set. Federer had a chance to return the favour in the next game, and berated himself when he hit a forehand long.
“I'm hoping it's not going to be over in two games,” Federer said of his feelings at that point. “I felt I was missing my opportunities to get back in the match.
“I really was hoping just to stay with him, then I got back, played a few really good games and pushed him to the tiebreaker. That set was crucial.”
“To come through in the end is unbelievable,” said Federer, who had a 7-8 record in five-setters and had come back from two sets to love deficit twice before in his career.
“I've hardly ever done it in my career,” he said. And against a player of this calibre, it's not the normal thing that I'm doing.”
Federer claimed his second straight title in the Masters Series, after defending his title at Indian Wells, California, earlier this month.
He became the first top seed to win in Miami since Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi in 1994, and in doing so preserved a winning streak in finals that stretches back to July 2003, when he lost to Jiri Novak in the title match in Gstaad shortly after claiming his first Wimbledon title. – AFP