Roger Federer came up with one answer after another in his incredible semifinal versus Nick Kyrgios at the Miami Open. This was one of the best matches of 2017, if not quite as dramatic as Federer’s Australian Open final win over Rafael Nadal. Between the lines, during the points, Kyrgios continued to show his remarkable blend of power, movement and bravado. But when he wasn’t cracking winners, Kyrgios also cracked his racquet frame, showing more of the disturbing mental fragility that earns him natural comparisons to such tortured geniuses as Ilie Nastase, Marcelo Rios. Still, Kyrgios’ anguish is hardly the sign of a man who has proclaimed his disdain for tennis. It will be interesting to see how Kyrgios rebounds and what kind of intensity he brings to next week’s Davis Cup tie versus the U.S. As for Federer, how is it possible that the man who for so long had everything now has more?
The earlier semi - Nadal versus Fabio Fognini -- also had its share of drama. After Nadal raced through the first set, 6-1, Fognini began to play much better tennis. Though Fognini’s attitude makes it hard to invest much confidence in him actually winning most big matches, his crisp strokes helped him carry the second set to 5-all - at which point Nadal snapped up the next two games to reach his fifth Miami final (he’s never won it).
And now, Federer and Nadal - who didn’t play each other once in 2016 and only met twice the previous two years - will meet for the third time this year. Having made the wrong call both times in 2017 - two of my rare forays into the prediction business - I’m going to recuse myself from any guess. Let’s just savor what these two continue to bring.