Federer: “It’s Definitely A Moment You Appreciate”
The 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau was all about new beginnings, but in the end, some things never change.
On Sunday, Roger Federer became the first champion at the new Hard Rock Stadium, completing an impressive run to the title with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of John Isner. After conceding his opening set of the tournament to Radu Albot, he was nearly flawless from there, blitzing the field for his fourth tournament title.
One year after succumbing to Thanasi Kokkinakis in an opening-round stunner, Federer admits that he wasn’t entirely sure of his return to the ATP Masters 1000 event. Safe to say he’s happy with the decision to come back.
“It’s easy to say that last year didn’t work out, so I won’t come back this year,” said Federer. “And as I’m playing clay, maybe add rather another clay-court event. But I felt like let’s extend the hard court season. Let’s see the new venue. To be honest, I think that was something also I was excited to see… So I’m happy with the team we took the right decision.
“Of course you feel fortunate when you come all the way to the end of the event and you can sit here with the trophy. It’s definitely a moment you appreciate a lot, because you know it could have turned out very different.
“And also the secret was I was more positive this year after losing in Indian Wells over last year. Because last year I was, I don’t want to say frustrated, but I think I was down on myself. I think it cost me a little bit on confidence because I was so down. So maybe this year I didn’t feel that way. Let’s go to Miami and have a good tournament. And I did.”
Federer notched his 101st tour-level crown, 28th at the ATP Masters 1000 level and fourth in Miami. Previously the champion at the old site on Key Biscayne in 2005, 2006 and 2017, the Swiss has fond memories of his time in South Florida.
In his post-match speech, an elated Federer reflected on his experiences competing in the area. From his junior days competing at Flamingo Park and The Biltmore to his Miami Open debut in 1999, the region has a special place in the 37-year-old’s heart.
“The other three [Miami titles] were very special in many ways,” Federer added. “I felt like it reflected who I have become until that moment. These Masters 1000s are hard to win. They are really a test for me, especially later in my career. So I know these don’t come around very often, so when they do, it’s a bit of a surprise for me. That’s why this one feels really cool in many ways.
“Being able to fight back [vs. Nadal in the 2005 final] and find a way to win, I ended up playing unbelievable tennis. I really feel like it was a big moment for me in my life and in my career there. The final against Ivan [Ljubicic] was just during the time when I was dominating so much and I was thinking how many times could I beat Ivan in a row. All these things were happening. It was just a matter of extending whatever you can and for as long as you can.
“And then of course the win here two years ago, maybe as much as it didn’t come as a surprise for people, for me it still did, because I felt like the tank was empty. I had a tough week here against Berdych and Kyrgios, as well. And I also didn’t expect this one, to be honest. I lost in a very close final in Indian Wells and it was a new venue. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Federer will next compete at the Mutua Madrid Open, making his return to clay for the first time in three years. His last match on the surface came at the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. He did not compete on the surface in 2017-18 to give his body a break ahead of the grass season. And while the Swiss says he is ready to make his clay comeback, he admits his confidence is low in making the transition.
“I’m not very confident going into this clay court season, I can tell you that. I didn’t even remember how to slide anymore. I’m taking baby steps at this point. I didn’t play one point – not one shot – on clay last year. Two years ago I played two days. Three years ago I played not feeling great in Monte-Carlo and Rome and all that. It’s been so little that I really don’t know what to expect.
“What this win does for me is it just takes even more pressure off from the clay-court season. That’s what I’m looking at now the next four or five weeks, figuring out how we are going to go about it. I’m very excited. It’s a good challenge, a good test.”