Each member of the ATP’s Big Four has something of a Masters 1000 bugaboo—a tournament that, try as they might, has failed to go their respective ways throughout their lucrative careers. Novak Djokovic has won every Masters 1000 title except for Cincinnati, where he’s finished second five times. Roger Federer has been stymied in the final round of both the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters on four separate occasions. Andy Murray, for all his hard-court prowess, has never enjoyed significant success at Indian Wells. Owner of 12 hard-court Masters championships, Murray has reached the semifinal stage at Indian Wells three times, but has taken seven defeats before the quarterfinal round.
There’s no question what Nadal’s elusive achievement is: Miami. Five times the sun-kissed carrot has been dangled in front of him, and five times the tennis gods have snatched it away at the last possible moment. Those gods have come in the form of supreme hard-court talents—Federer and Djokovic have beaten Nadal twice in Miami finals—as well as an omnipotent being. How else to explain Nadal’s loss to Nikolay Davydenko in the 2008 Miami final?
Nadal’s latest final-round loss in Miami came to Federer, on Sunday, by a relatively uncompetitive 6-3, 6-4 margin. It was 12 years ago that Nadal lost his first Miami final to Federer, and every three years since, he’s finished runner-up. It’s such an absurd statistic that even Nadal had to acknowledge it, during his post-match speech:
See you in 2020, Rafa.
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