After reaching back-to-back Major quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Roger Federer had to slow down in the second part of 2001 due to a groin injury, looking eager to return stronger in 2002. The Swiss kicked off the next season with a title in Sydney, failing to defend the crown in Milan and losing ground a little bit in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells.
Everything looked much better for the young gun in Miami, reaching the quarter-final there a year ago and making another step during his next visit to Florida to reach the first Masters 1000 final. In the semis, Federer faced world no.1 and another super talented youngster Lleyton Hewitt, beating the Aussie 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes, defeating Lleyton for the second time in six encounters.
Roger stormed over Andrei Pavel in the previous round and was ready to produce more of the same against the better-ranked rival, dropping only 15 points in ten service games and repelling all three break chances to force the opponent to give his best behind the initial shot to stay in touch.
That wasn't the case for Lleyton on that night, playing against nine break opportunities and getting broken once in each set to propel Federer over the finish line and towards Andre Agassi clash for the title. The Swiss had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, hitting many winners than Hewitt to forge the difference and earn the victory.
Roger kicked off the action with an ace in the opening game, producing a break in the next one after a backhand mistake from Hewitt to settle into an early lead. Federer survived two break chances in the third game to confirm the break, holding at love with a service winner next time he served to build a 4-1 advantage.
Dominating with his initial shot, Roger closed the opener with a service winner in game nine, moving 6-3 in front after 37 minutes and taking a big step en route to the place in the final. Ready to fight even stronger, Hewitt held at 15 in the first game of the second set and created a break chance in the next game, denied by a smash winner from Roger who brought the game home with a forehand crosscourt winner to avoid an early setback.
Stealing the momentum, Federer grabbed a break in the third game after forcing an error from Hewitt, landing four winners in the next game to move 6-3, 3-1 in front, controlling the strings of the match completely at that moment.
Flying over the court, Roger fired four winners in the sixth game as well to maintain the lead, wasting three break chances in the next game and creating more opportunities at 5-3. Giving his best, Lleyton saved two match points to prolong the encounter for another game before Roger sealed the deal in the next one to sail into the title match, his first at the Masters 1000 level at the age of 20.