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After missing much of last season through injury, Federer has bounced back in stunning style by winning the Australian Open, BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open this year.

After all, it's Federer and Nadal.

This was the superstar finish the Miami Open dearly needed, after what had not been the smoothest of fortnights.

"It was totally key", Federer said. One can only wonder what will happen when the Big 4 clash again; the only thing for certain is that tennis is back in its prime.

"It was an intense first set, things could have turned quickly, it could have gone either way".

"What a start to the year, thank you to my team and all who have supported me, especially in my more hard challenging times last year". "It's so crucial against a great return player like him to always protect your serve".

Federer will be rising to No. 4 on the ATP rankings, adding the Miami title to his Indian Wells and Australian Open trophies.

Though no pushover on clay, it is not his best surface. "Every time I have stood here I get the smaller trophy". He will be up to No4 tomorrow after facing a near-slip outside the top 30 at the start of the year, and he leads the Race to London by a distance. Whatever it is, Federer has regained shades of his invincible best. "If I'm not healthy, I won't be in these finals with Rafa", he said. “I need a rest. "My body needs healing-you'll probably see me at the French again".

The Miami final was their third meeting of the year, giving icon-aholics another full mug of greatness.

Nadal was so eager to reach the Key Biscayne final that he ran out of his shoe. "Physically and emotionally it has been a draining week, I think I did very well", he said.

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Actively seeking to step into the court, Federer frequently pressed forward. In that scenario, Federer pressed with two break points that rather than wasted his opponents saved, first with a volley and then with a winning setback.

Federer now has a 10-9 edge in hard-court matches over Nadal, and this one underlined how he has been able to turn around this once one-sided matchup.

But it was Fed who broke first, a good sign for the Swiss.

The bad news for Nadal: He was 2-24 in his prior 26 finals when dropping the first set.

Federer's aggression paid off, as he ripped 29 winners, responding to Nadal's assault on his forehand with 19 off his main wing, including 5 aces. Serving for the set, Federer finally had an easy hold to wrap up the opening 6-3.

Federer fired 30 winners, 18 of them in the first set, against his adversary, who suffered from the effects of the high 75 per cent humidity and 28 C (82 F) heat, a situation that several times nearly resulted in his racket escaping his sweaty hands.

The 35-year-old Federer becomes the tournament's oldest men's champion. Nadal said he felt ready for his first clay event, the Monte Carlo Masters - or would be, after his upcoming two-week break. Withstanding that stress test, Nadal held in the seventh game. On break point, the Spaniard tried a drop shot and followed it into the net. It wasn't Federer vs. Nadal renewing itself on fumes but rather on the rebound. His problem is he'll be giving up a lot of momentum if, as planned, he plays no competitive tennis until Roland Garros. That gave Federer his third match point - the last one he needed. One more wide serve sparked a floated return ending a 95-minute match.

For the third time in three months, Federer defeated Nadal in a meaningful final.

Who knew the rivalry that would grow from what we saw born? I told you then you would win this tournament.

Said Federer to his rival: "I truly believe you are going to still win this tournament. For me, the dream continues".