Miami Open: Roger Federer will limit clay season after beating Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer has won 19 of his 20 matches in 2017
Roger Federer has won 19 of his 20 matches in 2017

Roger Federer expects to take nearly two months off after winning the Miami Open with his only 2017 clay-court tournament being the French Open.

The 35-year-old beat Rafael Nadal in Miami on Sunday, to win his third title since January.

Federer, who sat out the second half of 2016 to recover from a knee injury, says rest will help him prepare for the French Open, which starts on 28 May.

"When I am healthy and feeling good, I can produce tennis like this," he said.

"When I am not feeling this good there is no chance I will be in the finals competing with Rafa," the 18-time Grand Slam winner told ESPN on court after the win.

"That is why this break is coming in the clay-court season, focusing everything on the French, the grass and then the hard courts after that.

"I'm not 24 any more so things have changed in a big way and I probably won't play any clay-court event except the French."

Rafa to 'tear it into pieces'

federer and Nadal shake hands
Federer beat Nadal 6-3 6-4 and the Spaniard has now lost five finals in Miami

Federer has won the Roland Garros tournament once in 2009. If he sticks to his plan, he would sit out clay events such as the Monte Carlo Masters, Madrid Open, Rome Masters and Istanbul Open - the last clay tournament he won in 2015.

The break in Federer's season arrives during his best start to a campaign since 2006. Back then he won 33 of his first 34 matches of the year, compared to his current run of 19 wins and one defeat.

Victory over Nadal sealed a third Miami Open title and added to wins at the Australian Open and Indian Wells this season.

"The dream continues," Federer said after the win. "It's been a fabulous couple of weeks. What a start to the year, thank you to my team and all who have supported me, especially in my more difficult challenging times last year."

In his on-court interview, Federer backed Nadal, who has himself been hampered by injury, for clay success.

"I know everybody is working very hard on your team to get you back in shape, and keep going," said Federer. "The clay courts are around, so I'm sure you are going to tear it into pieces over there."

Analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent:

It is 11 years since Roger Federer last completed the Indian Wells and Miami double, so add 'staggering stamina' to his rapidly increasing list of attributes for 2017.

At 35, though, Federer is also proving he is a realist and a pragmatist. Who is to say he would not have been able to piece together a very handy clay-court season to increase his chances of becoming world number one once more?

But Federer knows even he can't keep up this relentless success, on all surfaces, over an 11-month season. Thus this eight-week break from the tour to be followed by an appearance at the French Open where, even as a long shot for the title, he will remain the tournament's star turn.

And in Federer's mind - with Wimbledon and the US Open still to come - it is at Roland Garros that the season really begins.

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