Federer's Free Pass To Semi-finals
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Roger Federer advanced into the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open Thursday afternoon after his opponent, Gilles Simon, retired with a stiff neck trailing 0-3. Federer moves into the semi-finals in Miami for the second time in five years after reaching the final four stage in 2009.
A two-time winner here, the Swiss has appeared in three finals at Crandon Park, and is looking to get back into the championship match for the first time since 2006, when he repeated as the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami champion by defeating Ivan Ljubicic in three tie-break sets.
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Simon held a 2-1 head-to-head advantage against Federer coming into today’s match, but he quickly fell behind, losing serve twice and winning just two of the 14 points played over the three games. He had come-from-behind wins against Janko Tipsarevic and Pablo Cuevas in his previous two matches.
It was not known at the time, but Federer advanced to play World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The two giants of the past decade played their first two head-to-head meetings in Miami in 2004 and 2005, but haven’t met each other in the United States since Federer defeated the Spaniard in the final here six years ago. Back then Federer overcame a two-sets-to- love-deficit to win the title.
Their 20 subsequent encounters have been held in nine different countries (France, U.A.E., Monaco, Italy, England, China, Germany, Australia and Spain), with their latest clash coming in London in the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, a match Federer won in three sets. Nadal owns a 14-8 mark over the World No. 3, but has a 2-5 mark against the 16-time major champion on hard courts.
Reflecting on what his rivalry with Nadal means to him and the game, Federer said: “I think in the beginning, early on in my career when I became the World No. 1 I didn't really have that rival, and I was very happy about it. I was just able to win, win, win, and dominate and go on and lose, you know, ten matches in two years kind of thing. That was quite incredible.
“So in the beginning I guess I struggled to embrace the rivalry I had with Rafa. Only later on I was able to say this is actually quite cool. Sleeveless, pirate pants, you name it, long hair, lefty, spins, more with the flat shots and so forth and double handed against one handed, lefty against righty. I think it all kind of made sense, and I was able to embrace it then.
“I think we had some good times in the past, and they have changed into what it is today. Really respectful and helping each other for good causes, foundation matches, you name it, for tsunamis. We've done so many things together. It's been a lot of fun."
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