Tennis

Roger Federer claims 101st career title

Swiss maestro ousts defending champion Isner to win his fourth Miami Open

After Roger Federer picked up career title 101 with a clinical 6-1, 6-4 dissection of John Isner at the Miami Open yesterday morning (Singapore time), the American defending champion seemed as keen as the crowd for the Swiss to carry on competing for titles.

"We all want you to keep playing and never retire," gushed Isner after being brushed aside in 63 minutes by the fourth-seeded Swiss.

Federer has already amassed a record 20 Grand Slam trophies and Miami was his 101st career title, leaving him just eight shy of matching Jimmy Connors' all-time mark.

The Swiss has said he is not yet thinking about the record and neither is he contemplating retirement.

At 37, the retirement question is one that comes up for Federer before every event and after it - win or lose - as it did in Miami. His answer is always the same, "Why should I?"

The evergreen Federer is healthy, happy and winning.

With yesterday's triumph - his fourth in Miami - he is the only player on the ATP or WTA Tour to capture two titles this season.

It has been a marvellous month for Federer, starting with a win in Dubai and ending with victory in Miami. It could have been even better with a runner-up spot at Indian Wells sandwiched between the two titles.

"This is why I am still playing to hopefully win big titles like here in Miami," said Federer in a post-match interview.

"It just shows me the process I am going through is the right one. I am still able to prioritise all the things in my life the right way."

Federer has discovered the secret to career longevity that other members of the Big Four have not quite figured out.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who failed to make the quarter-finals at Miami or Indian Wells, is struggling with off-court issues, Rafael Nadal is again battling knee problems, while Andy Murray is recovering from hip surgery that may have sent him into retirement.

And Federer? The Swiss maestro just keeps ticking along like one of his country's famous time pieces.

"I am really excited about the transition I was able to make," he said.

"With an older body, maybe you move differently. You see it with Rafa too, he doesn't chase down the balls the same way he used to. So you adjust to that."

Federer listens closely to what his body is saying and, after reaching three consecutive finals, it is telling him that it is time for a rest before he tackles the European clay-court season for the first time in three years.

"The clay is going to be a really interesting challenge for me," said the Swiss, who will take four or five weeks off before returning in Madrid.

"If things don't go well then that was expected maybe but, if they do, than I am really excited."

Federer also took time to refute claims by Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas that the most experienced players on the ATP Tour receive preferential treatment from officials.

"The umpires know the top guys... they know how they behave and how they will react, so they know what acting stupid or silly means and what normal is," Federer said.

"So because we know each other very well, it's easier for an umpire to handle a top player over an up-and-coming guy like Tsitsipas or a young guy. And that sometimes gets lost in translation, and maybe bad mistakes can happen.

"But I don't see preferential treatment, there shouldn't be.

"If I get warnings - I got one recently - it's normal... I am sorry that Stefanos feels that way." - REUTERS, AFP

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