Federer claims 101st title

Miami: For the ageless Roger Federer, winning never gets old. Now 37, Federer became tennis’s first repeat champion of 2019 when he won his 101st career title by beating a hobbled John Isner on Sunday in the Miami Open final, 6-1, 6-4.

Federer neutralised Isner’s big serve and won 32 of 35 points on his own serve. The lanky American scrambled so desperately to stay in rallies that he hurt his left foot and limped badly through the final few points.

Isner said afterward he didn’t know the nature or severity of the injury. Federer was the Dubai champion on March 2, and runner-up to Dominic Thiem at Indian Wells two weeks ago. Federer is 18-2 this year, best on the men’s tour, which stamps him as a threat to add to his record total of 20 Grand Slam titles in 2019.

“Unbelievable for you to keep winning and playing this level of tennis,” Miami tournament director James Blake, a former top-five player, told Federer during the trophy presentation. “It makes me feel like such an underachiever. We’re all just in awe.”

Isner also paid tribute to Federer during the ceremony. “You were entirely too good today, entirely too good this whole tournament,” Isner said.

“You are entirely too good your whole career. It’s absolutely incredible what you’re doing. We’re so lucky to have you in this game, and we all want you to keep playing and literally never retire. So keep it up, man.”

The first 33 men’s and women’s titles in 2019 were won by 33 different players, including Ashleigh Barty in the Miami women’s final on Saturday. Federer is the first repeat winner in 20 men’s tournaments this year. Kind of fitting, Isner said.

“It’s a terrible feeling,” Isner said, “going up against the greatest player ever, playing in this incredible atmosphere, and my foot’s killing me. Not that I would have won the match anyway. Let’s make that clear. But, you know, I think I could have made for a more interesting match, and one that was a little more fun.”

Agency