By Jake Davies
- Roger Federer  vs Rafael Nadal 
- H2H: Nadal leads 23-13
MIAMI, USA – For the second time this season we see two old rivals face each other once more as the last men standing, as Roger Federer looks to get the better of Rafael Nadal for the third time in 2017.
Roger Federer  vs Rafael Nadal  H2H: Nadal leads 23-13
Leading into the second Masters 1000 event of the season, many would have been expecting Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to be in this position contesting the Miami Open final, but with their withdrawals, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have both took advantage of the opportunity.
Federer and the Nadal, two of the all-time greats in tennis, will contest a 37th match against each other and their third meeting in the year of 2017 already. Over the years Nadal has enjoyed incredible success and established himself as the biggest rival of Federer mainly because he had the winning formula against the Swiss, applying top spin forehands cross court to the Federer backhand, which had an even greater success rate on slower clay courts of Roland Garros.
Are we seeing a considerable momentum change in this rivalry? Federer, with the assistance of coach Ivan Ljubicic, has been encouraged to hit over the backhand to give his opponents more to think about but in less time, which has changed the dynamic of this particular rivalry. Let’s not forget that Ljubicic had one of the truly great one-handed backhands, so knows exactly what he is talking about in that regard.
Federer came out on top in Melbourne and ran riot in the second meeting of 2017 at Indian Wells, but does Nadal have a slender advantage on an even slower court in Miami? The slower conditions and the pace of the court suits Nadal, but I think this rivalry sits in a period now where the mental advantage counts for everything, which would lie with Federer at this point.
The slower court prevents Federer from hitting through the court with as much comfort as he would like, but Federer showed in Melbourne and at Indian Wells, that he takes the ball so early that it makes very little difference.
Nadal leads their final meetings 14-8, but they are both tied at 9-9 in hard court matches versus each other, which adds even more significance to an already mouthwatering final.
I think Federer holds all the cards to victory in the Miami Open final on Sunday. I still believe Federer feels the most confident about the game plan that he has implemented during his great 2017 season, despite Nadal’s improvement, which has brought him the most ATP wins of the season at 19, he still lacks the conviction in his game that he showed in his prime years. Federer seems to be going from strength to strength and is even winning matches where he faces great adversity from the other side of the net, which is why I give the eighteen-time Grand Slam champion the slight edge to win his third Miami title.
Prediction: Federer in two sets.
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