Roger Federer meets Rafael Nadal in the final of the Miami Open
Last Updated: 02/04/17 5:56pm
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet for the third time in 2017 as their rivalry reaches encounter number 37 at the scene of their very first in Miami as they contest Sunday's final.
The legendary pair have once again defied the field, as well as age and physical demands to emerge from one of the year's strongest fields to battle it out for the title.
Both men have enjoyed prolific seasons, returning to their very best with Federer claiming two titles already and Nadal, despite no trophy, having won more matches, 19, than anyone else on tour this year.
Federer has beaten his Spanish foe on route to both his titles this year, the small matter of Grand Slam number 18 at the Australian Open and Masters title number 25 at Indian Wells just a couple of weeks ago.
Those two victories mean that Federer has won three successive meetings between the pair, amazingly a feat he has achieved for the first time in his career.
On Sunday, in an encounter you can see live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm, the pair will meet for a fourth time in Miami with Nadal leading 2-1 although their only final in Key Biscayne came in 2005 when Federer emerged victorious.
The pair met for the first at Crandon Park in 2004 when a teenage Nadal beat a 22-year-old Federer in straight sets.
The Swiss great is chasing a third Miami crown but hasn't won the title since he claimed back-to-back titles in Florida with success in 2005 and 2006, while Nadal is a four-time runner-up at an event, which is one of the few he has not claimed.
Nadal famously leads the head to head, while he also has the upper hand when it comes to Masters titles but at the 1000 level they both trail Novak Djokovic's total of 30.
A win for Nadal will take him to within one of the Serb but he has not won a Masters event away from the clay since Cincinnati in 2013 while Federer is chasing back-to-back Masters for the first time since 2014.
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Understandably, both men are enjoying their return to the top, with Federer back up to six in the world rankings and Nadal at seven - although a win would do wonders for both men's hopes of climbing back into the top four.
Their routes to the final have taken a couple of turns, with Federer taken to deciding sets by Tomas Berdych and Nick Kyrgios in the last couple of matches and Nadal easing past Jack Sock and Fabio Fognini.
Whether those exertions take their toll on 35-year-old Federer remain to be seen, and even if they do, the sight of his great rival at the other end of the court will be enough stave off the threat of tiredness.
"I feel like there is a mountain to climb in Rafa. He's hasn't won this event before. He's definitely feeling fresher than I feel right now. But that's not a problem. I'll be ready on Sunday," said Federer.
"It's definitely going to be very special playing Rafa here again. I'm thrilled for him that he came back as well as he did after the comeback and the struggles that he had last year.
"It feels like old times. We're playing each other every week now. We can't get enough of each other. Hopefully it's not our last match."
With the world's top two players sidelined through injury many expect the next generation to step up and make their mark, but it has been the old guard who have returned to the fore. Sunday's final promises to be the next thrilling instalment.