Best ATP Miami matches

andrewhendrie in Features 26 Mar 2020
Best ATP Miami matches
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic after the classic 2011 Miami final (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil/ABACAPRESS.COM)

With COVID-19 cancelling the 2020 Miami Masters, we thought we’d go back through the archives and list our top five ATP matches since the turn of the century from the second Masters 1000 event of the season.

See also: Greatest Miami Open champions

2013 Final: ?? Andy Murray def. ?? David Ferrer 2-6 6-4 7-6(1)

Played in brutal humidity, Murray scored one of the finest wins of his illustrious career, outlasting Ferrer in a gruelling final showdown, prevailing in a deciding set tiebreak after two hours and 45 minutes.

Murray, who lost the first five games of the match, saved a championship point at 5-6 in the third set after Ferrer stopped play to challenge a forehand from the Scot, which replays showed just landed inside the baseline.

With all the momentum, Murray surged away with the match in the tiebreak, with Ferrer collapsing to the ground with cramp at 1-5 down.

“That’s the beauty of the challenge system; in some matches that would have been over but luckily it just dropped in,” Murray said.

“I just managed to fight well in the end. They were incredibly difficult conditions, very windy, extremely humid and hot.”

It was Murray’s second Miami Masters title, with the win elevating him above Roger Federer in the rankings to No. 2 at the time. Murray taking the No. 2 spot meant it was the first time in 10 years the top two ranking positions didn’t feature either Federer or Rafael Nadal.

2004 R3: ?? Rafael Nadal def. ?? Roger Federer 6-3 6-3

Who would have thought that 16 years ago, a straight sets third round encounter in Miami would be the start of arguably the most legendary rivalry tennis has ever seen?

It might not be a classic per say in regards to the scoreline or occasion, but given what’s transpired since, this match can’t be left off this list.

At 22 years of age, Roger Federer was World No. 1 and only just embarking on what would turn out to be a legendary career, but he was no match for a 17-year-old phenom by the name of Rafael Nadal in Miami.

The Spaniard, who made headlines with an impressive third round showing at the Australian Open to launch his 2004 season against Lleyton Hewitt, stunned his Swiss rival, upsetting the top seed in straight sets in just 70 minutes to reach the Round of 16.

Nadal was typically humble after his victory.

“I’m very happy because I played one of the best matches in my life. Obviously, he didn’t play his best tennis and that’s the reason why I could win,” Nadal said.

“If he had played his best tennis, I would have had no chance. But that’s what happens in tennis. If a player like me plays at a very, very good level and a top player like Roger doesn’t play his best tennis, I can win. But sure, I’m really, really happy.”

It was only Nadal’s second ever match in Miami after defeating former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic in his opener.

Nadal was knocked out in the next round by Chilean powerhouse Fernando Gonzalez in three sets.

2005 Final: ?? Roger Federer def. ?? Rafael Nadal 2-6 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-1

Federer would get his revenge over Nadal one year later as the pair clashed in a final for the very first time.

It appeared as if Nadal was on course to repeat his 2004 triumph over Federer after the Spaniard raced away to a two-set lead, with Federer uncharacteristically throwing his racquet as he grew increasingly frustrated at his young rival’s relentless ability to get every ball back with interest.

However, the Swiss managed to dig out the third set tiebreak, where he was only a couple of points away from defeat, and from there the entire match changed, with Federer riding the momentum all the way to the finish line, completing the victory in three hours and 42 minutes.

It was only the second time in his career that Federer had recovered from a 0-2 set deficit.

“I really didn’t expect to turn it around really,” admitted Federer.

“I haven’t dug out many matches in my career and to dig it out against Nadal, I’m extremely happy – and exhausted.

“I was missing one opportunity after another. I just had enough. I threw it hard. Maybe it did me good,” Federer added in regards to his racquet smash.

2017 SF: ?? Roger Federer def. ?? Nick Kyrgios 7-6(9) 6-7(9) 7-6(5)

Federer’s start to the 2017 season will go down in history as one of the very best.

After being sidelined for six months the previous season due to knee surgery, Federer bounced back in lightning fashion to launch 2017, winning the Australian Open and Indian Wells before entering Miami in search of another ‘Sunshine Double’.

Standing in his way in the semi-finals was enigmatic Australian star Nick Kyrgios, who had won their only previous meeting in three tiebreaks in Madrid in 2015.

And has it turned out, this showdown was even more dramatic. Federer saved set points and Kyrgios saved match points with his trademark audacious shotmaking, but this time it was the Swiss veteran who came out on top in a match that was ultimate crowned as the best in 2017.

“It did feel very good, because you don’t very often play three tie-breaks in a match. It’s nice to win those and winning tie-breaks is always such a thrill,” said Federer.

“It’s great winning this way, especially because I remember the loss against him a few years ago. It was rough. It was the birthday of my boys. I wasn’t with them and had that match, so it was nice to get this one tonight.”

Federer would go on to defeat great rival Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the final to continue his extraordinary comeback.

2011 Final: ?? Novak Djokovic def. ?? Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 7-6(4)

An all-time classic and one of the very best finals Miami Masters history, with Djokovic coming back from a set down to continue his perfect start to the 2011 season.

The Serbian, who had captured the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells titles earlier in the year, didn’t drop serve as he blitzed his way through the Miami draw. However, that all changed in blustery conditions in the final, with Nadal breaking early to take a one-set advantage.

Djokovic knew he had to tighten up his game and adjust to the conditions – and that’s exactly what he did, battening down the hatches and refusing to miss as he counter-punched his way to victory in a deciding set tiebreak, extending his winning streak to 24 matches to start 2011.

“It was very close, and it really could have gone either way,” said Djokovic, who completed the first of his four Indian Wells-Miami title doubles. “It was one of the best finals I ever played in in my life.”

Nadal was complimentary of Djokovic’s incredible start to the season in defeat.

“What Novak is doing at the start of this season is something difficult to repeat, so well done to him and his team,” said Nadal. “Today I had some good chances, but Novak was too good for me this afternoon.”

Djokovic would put together a 41-match winning streak in 2011, with his run coming to an end in the French Open semi-finals at the hands of Roger Federer.