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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Roger Federer after his first No. 1 win: ‘I’m thrilled’

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Facing each other for the sixth time, Roger Federer took down world no. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 Miami Masters semi-final, delivering the second triumph over the Aussie. It was the first win for the young Swiss against world no.

1 player, producing a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an hour and 29 minutes for a place in his first Masters 1000 final. Serving at only 54%, Roger drew the most from his initial shot, dropping 15 points in ten service games and fending off all three break chances.

That put the Aussie under pressure, and he could not deal with it. Lleyton lost serve once in each set from nine opportunities offered to Roger, who set the title clash against Andre Agassi. Federer had the edge in the shortest and mid-range exchanges.

He controlled the pace in the rallies with 29 winners and 26 unforced errors to leave Lleyton behind and remain on the title course.

Roger Federer defeated Lleyton Hewitt in Miami 2002.

Roger kicked off the action with an ace in the opening game and produced a break in the next one after Hewitt’s backhand mistake.

Federer survived two break chances in the third game to confirm the lead. He held at love with a service winner to open a 4-1 advantage. Dominating with his initial shot, Roger closed the opener with a service winner in game nine, moving 6-3 in front after 37 minutes and taking a big step en route to the final.

Ready to fight even stronger, Hewitt held at 15 in the second set’s first game and created a break chance a few minutes later. Roger denied it with a smash winner and brought the game home with a forehand crosscourt winner to avoid an early setback.

Stealing momentum, Federer grabbed a break in the third game after forcing Hewitt’s error. The Swiss landed four winners in the next one to move 6-3, 3-1 in front, controlling the match’s strings entirely. Flying over the court, Roger fired four winners in the sixth game to maintain the lead.

He squandered three break chances in the one that followed and created more opportunities at 5-3. Giving his best, Lleyton saved two match points to prolong the encounter for another game before Roger sealed the deal on his serve to sail into the title match, his first at the Masters 1000 level at 20.

“It’s nice to play so well again after a great victory over Pavel. I got it through all the way, which is why I’m working hard. It’s special, as I have never beaten world no. 1 before. I also ended Hewitt’s winning streak.

It’s very nice to be in my first Masters 1000 final and have a chance to win the tournament. I have played twice against Andre and never beaten him; we even played in my hometown when I was a junior. He is one of the world’s best players on hard courts alongside Lleyton; I’m excited to play against him and look forward to that clash.

I have a day off tomorrow, with enough time to leave this victory behind and prepare for the next challenge. I did not panic from the baseline; I could stay with Lleyton in the exchanges when I wanted. I mixed up my game well and found good tactics in the last few matches against different rivals.

I have to find the right one against Andre; otherwise, it will be tough. I have found the rhythm on serve again; I had been missing for a month. I did not get enough free points, and my baseline game was not as good as it is now,” Roger Federer said.

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