10SBALLS SHARES • RICKY DIMON’S FAVORITE ATP TENNIS MATCH OF 2017 • NO. 1 IS ROGER FEDERER VS. NICK KYRGIOS IN MIAMI

Written by: on 14th December 2017
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Miami Open tennis tournament
10SBALLS SHARES • RICKY DIMON'S FAVORITE ATP TENNIS MATCH OF 2017 • NO. 1 IS ROGER FEDERER VS. NICK KYRGIOS IN MIAMI

epaselect epa05881959 Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after defeating Nick Kyrgios of Australia during a semifinal round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 31 March 2017. Federer will face Rafael Nadal of Spain in the men's singles finals on 02 April. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER  |

By Ricky Dimon

Over the past week, Ricky has been counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It ends with the No. 1, the match of the year. In a thrilling Miami Open semifinal, Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios slugged it for more than three hours in three consecutive tiebreakers. Federer survived and went on to beat Rafael Nadal for the title.

 

Miami semifinals: Roger Federer d. Nick Kyrgios 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5)

 

This one is everything. Okay, it didn’t have a fifth set; or even a fourth. But it was unable to have those things, because–of course–the Miami Open is a Masters 1000 event as opposed to a major. Everything that this one was allowed to bring to the table, it brought.

 

But it almost didn’t happen.

 

Earlier in the tournament, Kyrgios survived a thriller against Ivo Karlovic in a final-set tiebreaker after fighting off one break point in the third set. He also needed three sets to battle past Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Federer was twice one point away from losing his quarterfinal contest against Tomas Berdych. But the Swiss saved both match points and eventually triumphed 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6).

 

Yes, tiebreakers were the story throughout the Miami Open. The 2017 match of the year was no exception.

 

Nick Kyrgios of Australia reacts against Roger Federer of Switzerland during a semifinal round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 31 March 2017. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

There were just two service breaks the whole way, the first of which gave Kyrgios a chance to serve out the first set at 5-4. The 21-year-old Australian failed and was ultimately pushed to a tiebreaker–a downright crazy ‘breaker, to be sure. Federer recovered from a mini-break down on three different occasions, while Kyrgios did the same once. It basically came down to a double-fault by Kyrgios at 9-9, when he took too big of a gamble with a crushed second serve. Federer wrapped up the set on serve one point later.

 

It was Federer who came close to seizing an early lead in the second. Kyrgios’ full array of showmanship and shot-making, however, was on display throughout it. His display included a tweener winner and the clutch saves of two break points at 3-3. He also saved two match points in the ‘breaker, which he ultimately clinched with an ace at 10-9.

 

Although final-set tiebreaker did not last quite as long as the first one, it was otherwise a carbon copy. Kyrgios had every opportunity to cross the finish line, twice leading by a mini-break–including at 5-4. But he lost each of his next two service points to put the match on Federer’s racket. Federer made no mistake, sending the fans into one final frenzy with an unreturnable serve.

 

Only the third set of this thriller failed to reach the one-hour mark, coming up just seconds short. In total, the tilt lasted three hours and 11 minutes. Not including majors, it was without question the most dramatic three hours and 11 minutes of the ATP World Tour season.

 

“I was very happy with my level of play,” Federer assessed. “It was an exciting match with some great shot-making…. It did feel very good, because you don’t very often play three ‘breakers in a match. Winning ‘breakers is always such a thrill; it’s great winning this way.”

 

“It was a tough match,” Kyrgios reflected. “Obviously (we) played over three hours–wasn’t expecting less, to be honest…. I created enough opportunities to win that match. I felt like it was on my racket most of the time.

 

“I feel like my level of tennis has always been high, but mentally I’m competing for every point now. That’s making the difference. I showed a lot of fight.”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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