Tennis: Federer sets up Nadal final after epic tussle

Nick Kyrgios stretching to return a shot from Roger Federer. The Swiss had to draw on all his experience to fend off his tempestuous opponent, and will face old adversary Rafa Nadal in the Miami Open final.
Nick Kyrgios stretching to return a shot from Roger Federer. The Swiss had to draw on all his experience to fend off his tempestuous opponent, and will face old adversary Rafa Nadal in the Miami Open final.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Swiss digs deep to beat Nick Kyrgios in see-saw semi-final at the Miami Open

MIAMI • Roger Federer needed more than three hours to outlast Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (9-11), 7-6 (7-5) in a pulsating Miami Open semi-final on Friday to set up another mouthwatering final clash with Rafael Nadal.

The Swiss, who has won two of his last three tournaments including the Australian Open, had to dig deep to get through a second straight test after fending off a match point in his quarter-final victory over Tomas Berdych.

The 35-year-old's victory sets up a re-match of January's Melbourne Park title-decider against Spaniard Nadal, who earlier beat unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5.

Kyrgios, who has twice beaten Novak Djokovic over the last month, left his racket a twisted heap on the court after coming up short in a battle against the former world No. 1 and a partisan crowd.

His big serve, touching 140 mph (225 kph) at times, delivered 14 aces, but he also hit some spectacular winners and played his part in a series of stirring rallies.

In their only previous match in Madrid in 2015, the Australian came out on top in a similar three-set thriller that went to three tie-breaks with the last decided at 14-12.

"It's great winning this way, especially of course I remember the loss against him few years ago," Federer told reporters.

"He's clearly got a big-time game. He has one of the best serves in the game.

"It's just going to take time for him to really be able to focus point for point and improve that."

Nadal will be out to snap a run of three straight defeats against Federer, including in the Melbourne final and at Indian Wells last month, where the Swiss won his fifth title.

The Spaniard has also never won the Miami Open in 12 previous appearances, including four trips to the final, and Federer cannot quite figure out why.

"I think the surface is good for him," Federer said before the tournament began.

"I think it plays slower here than in Australia and Indian Wells, which gives Rafa more time to defend and use his forehand. I would expect him in the heat, in the wind, with this kind of a surface, to be very tough to beat."

Nadal did not face a break point in his match against Fognini and put his opponent's serve under pressure throughout the 90-minute match.

"Winning here would be something great, and an important title I haven't won," Nadal told reporters after his match.

"I served well (today). That gives you calm when you have opportunities on the return."

When asked about his long-time rivalry with Federer, Nadal added: "I am excited to play another final of an important event.

"So if it's Roger, it will just be another one for both of us, and that's it. Just another one."

NYTIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Federer sets up Nadal final after epic tussle'. Print Edition | Subscribe