ThrowbackTimes Miami: Rafael Nadal masters Roger Federer to reach final

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ThrowbackTimes Miami: Rafael Nadal masters Roger Federer to reach final

In Miami 2011, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the main protagonists of the title chase, reaching the semi-final together with Mardy Fish who stood no chance against an in-form Novak Djokovic. In the other semi-final, world no.

1 Rafael Nadal reached yet another Miami final following a commanding 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Roger Federer in 79 minutes, earning the 15th victory in 23 encounters against the Swiss. The first two matches between these two came in Miami in 2004 and 2005, setting another Florida clash after six years and not offering the crowd what they wanted to see, with Rafa marching into the second straight Masters 1000 final, losing Indian Wells to Novak Djokovic two weeks earlier.

Landing 76% of the first serve in, the Spaniard produced masterclass performance on both serve and return, dropping ten points in eight service games and fending off both break chances he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the court.

Federer wasn't ready to challenge Rafa on that day, struggling on both the first and second serve and giving it away four times from five opportunities Nadal created, never looking like a real contender. Roger had more winners but also 35 unforced errors on his tally, unable to find the range and move Nadal from the comfort zone.

Rafa had the advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes and in the more extended exchanges, spreading his rival over the baseline and sealing the deal in no time at all to set Novak Djokovic clash in the battle for the title.

The Swiss made a great start, landing a volley winner in the first game for a hold at 15, with Nadal responding with a forehand crosscourt winner in game two, holding at love and getting his name on the scoreboard. The first break came in game three when Roger netted an easy backhand, allowing Rafa to forge a 3-1 advantage with a forehand down the line winner a few minutes later.

The Spaniard held at love in game six to remain in front, producing another comfortable hold at 4-3 with a service winner and wrapping up the set with the second break for a 6-3 after 33 minutes. Nadal fended off a break chance at the beginning of the second set with a lucky net cord and broke Roger's serve in the next game after another forehand mistake from the Swiss who was drifting further and further away from the positive result.

Carried by this momentum, the Spaniard held at love with two forehand winners in the third game, missing a chance to move 4-0 up but making another easy hold for a 4-1 advantage. Serving at 2-5, Federer placed another straightforward forehand into the net to suffer the fourth break and propel his great rival over the finish line, with Rafa clinching a one-sided triumph over the Swiss just like at the same stadium seven years earlier at the age of 17.