2017 Match of the Year: Federer vs. Kyrgios, Miami

The Grandstand has compiled its list of the Top 10 Matches of the Year for 2017. Matches were ranked from a combination of Top 10 lists made by the Grandstand’s Ricky Dimon, Joey Hanf of Cliff Drysdale Tennis, voting at MensTennisForums, and Twitter user Ben Conti.

No. 1: Roger Federer d. Nick Kyrgios 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5), Miami semifinals

This one had it all. Well, the only thing it was missing was a fifth set–and it was not afforded that opportunity because the Miami Open, of course, is a Masters 1000 rather than a slam. Everything that this one could bring to the table, it brought.

But it almost never happened. Earlier in the fortnight, Kyrgios outlasted Ivo Karlovic in a third-set tiebreaker after saving one break point in the final set and he also needed three to scrape past Alexander Zverev in the quarters. Federer, meanwhile, was twice one point from defeat in his quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych but he fought off both match points and eventually prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6).

Yes, tiebreakers were the story throughout the tournament. The match of the year was no exception.

There were just two service breaks the entire way, the first of which gave Kyrgios a chance to serve out the opening set at 5-4. He failed and was ultimately pushed to a tiebreaker–a positively wild ‘breaker, to be sure. Federer battled back from a mini-break down on three occasions, while Kyrgios did the same once. It boiled down to a double-fault by the 21-year-old at 9-9, when he went for far too big of a second serve. Federer wrapped up the opening frame of play on serve one point later.

It was the eventual Miami champion who came close to pocketing an early lead in set two. Kyrgios’ full array of shot-making and showmanship, however, was on display throughout the second. His performance included a between-the-legs winner and the crucial saves of two break points at 3-3. The Australian also fought off two match points in the tiebreaker, which he clinched thanks to a booming ace at 10-9.

The final-set tiebreaker did not last quite as long as the first one, but it was otherwise a carbon copy. Kyrgios had every opportunity to propel himself across the finish line, twice leading by a mini-break–including at 5-4. But the underdog dropped each of his next two service points to put the match on his opponent’s racket. Federer made no mistake, sending the enthralled crowd into one last frenzy with an unreturnable serve.

Only the third set failed to reach the one-hour mark, coming up just seconds short. In total, the thriller lasted three hours and 11 minutes. Not including Grand Slams, it was the most dramatic three hours and 11 minutes of the ATP season.

Highlights:

“I was very happy with my level of play,” Federer said. “It was an exciting match with some great shot-making…. It did feel very good, because you don’t very often play three ‘breakers in a match. Winning ‘breakers is always such a thrill; it’s great winning this way.”

“It was a tough match,” Kyrgios concurred. “Obviously (we) played over three hours–wasn’t expecting less, to be honest…. I created enough opportunities to win that match. I felt like it was on my racket most of the time. I feel like my level of tennis has always been high, but mentally I’m competing for every point now. That’s making the difference. I showed a lot of fight.”


8 Comments on 2017 Match of the Year: Federer vs. Kyrgios, Miami

  1. Great match in Miami…maybe Kyrios’ best effort of the year….but of course, Fed wins it & proves once again that he is GOAT!

  2. Great list of matches .Id have put Dimitrov -Nadal just ahead of this one , because it was a Slam semi.

    There were a few lesser one-sided matches that are worth mentioning on the individual performance , EG Zverev-Murray AO, and Federer v younger Zverev on home turf. And on clay , RG final Nadal d Wawrinka .

  3. One comment on this incredible match. Kyrgios was right that the match was on his racquet for most of it. He has so much firepower, obviously on his serve but also on his groundies when he chooses to focus, that it took Fed’s very best just to nip him at the end. Even then, it was really Kyrgios’s match to win and he let the crowd get to him to lose it.

    If Nick ever decides to work hard and screw his head on right in the next couple of years, he can dominate tennis for quite some time. Loads of talent, but slowly wasting away at the moment.

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