While tennis heads to clay, Roger Federer heads for vacation

Federer won all three - in five sets at the Australian Open final, two weeks again at Indian Wells, Calif., and then on Sunday, in front of a packed stadium that showed love and respect for both players.

When the duo met again in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Federer cleaned him up in straight sets - 6-2, 6-3.

"Congrats Rafa on a great comeback yourself, I'm so happy we're here together", Federer said in his victory speech.

"Just do it one more time and go out there and be courageous on the big points, you know", he said.

"We've had some epic matches over the years", Federer said to Nadal at the victory presentation. "You're too good not to", Federer told his rival.

In years gone by, Nadal's heavy, jumping lefty forehand forced Federer to step back and slice his backhand, allowing Nadal to take control of the point.

Although Nadal still has a 23-14 advantage in the meetings between the two, dating back to their first match in Miami in 2004, Federer now has a 10-9 lead on hard courts.

Rafael Nadal's 2017 revival has been nearly as impressive, yet three head-to-heads between the two this year have all gone Federer's way, with Sunday's Miami Open final win leaving the Swiss star in a supremely strong position heading into the clay court season. Roger, who won his third title in Miami, was praised by Victoria Azarenka, who tweeted: ´Sunshine double Federer!

For years, with his left-handedness and his inimitable ability to put massive spin on the ball, Nadal has unmoored Federer from his free-flowing athletic genius.

Nadal thanked the crowd in English and Spanish, and congratulated Federer on his remarkable start to the 2017 season.

"I want to stay healthy and enjoy myself".

"I think it was a close match", said Federer. "That's why this break coming into clay court season and focusing everything on the French, the grass and then the hard-courts is going to be the key to me".

While they may sit at 4th and 5th positions respectively in the ATP rankings, their performances and those of their closest nemeses, the trio of Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic-Stan Wawrinka, point in one specific direction, the majestic duo is all set to reclaim their thrones in the tennis universe.

"It was more of a fight mode I was in, just trying to stay afloat".

"He looked good from the get-go", Federer said of Nadal after the match. "Every three years I am in this position, but always with the smaller trophy".

He's the first three-time champion this year on the men's tour - and ready for a break.

  • Julie Sanders