Roger Federer wins 101st title, beating John Isner in Miami Open final

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates his win against John Isner during the men's final of the Miami Open. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2019
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Roger Federer wins 101st title, beating John Isner in Miami Open final

  • For the ageless Federer, winning never gets old
  • Federer first played in the tournament as a wild card 20 years ago

MIAMI: Orange streamers rained down while Roger Federer held another championship trophy aloft, his familiar grin as wide as ever.
For the ageless Federer, winning never gets old.
Now 37, Federer became tennis’ first repeat champion of 2019 when he won his 101st career title Sunday by beating a hobbled John Isner in the Miami Open final, 6-1, 6-4.
Federer neutralized Isner’s big serve and won 32 of 35 points on his own serve. The 6-foot-10 Isner 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 did not yet know the nature or severity of the injury.
Federer was the Dubai champion on March 2, and was 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 Saturday. Federer is the first repeat winner in 20 men’s tournaments this year.
“Kind of fitting,” Isner said.
Federer first played in the tournament as a wild card 20 years ago. He won the title in 2005, 2006 and 2017 before it moved from Key Biscayne to its new home this year in the Miami Dolphins’ complex.
“It has been a super long journey for me here,” Federer told the crowd. “To stand here right now really means a lot after so many years.”
The temporary stands inside the NFL stadium were almost full for the final, but Federer quickly defused any drama. He broke in the opening game and then twice more in a first set that lasted only 24 minutes.
“Champion, Roger!” a fan yelled during a lull, prompting cheers. Federer went on to earn the adjective yet again.
To compound matters for Isner, he said the top of his foot started to hurt during the first set, and the problem grew worse as the match progressed.
“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.”


Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 April 2019
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Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.