Roger Federer will play Rafael Nadal in the Miami Open final after beating mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios in an enthralling semi-final.
Federer and Kyrgios duelled for three hours and 10 minutes in front of an enraptured crowd at Key Biscayne before the Swiss legend prevailed 7-6 (11-9) 6-7 (9-11) 7-6 (7-5).
Federer’s extraordinary resurgence continues apace and he will now meet old rival Nadal on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, in a repeat of the Australian Open final.
The duo began their epic rivalry 13 years ago, also at Key Biscayne, and Federer is back in the final for the first time since 2006.
He had his hands full with the unpredictable Kyrgios, who produced his trademark mix of huge serving, dazzling ground strokes and petulant behaviour.
In their only previous match in Madrid in 2015, the Australian came out on top in a similar three-set thriller that also went to three tiebreaks.
Kyrgios was frequently booed by the crowd for racket throwing and language in this encounter but seemed to enjoy the role of pantomime villain and broke to lead 4-3 in the first set.
However, Federer broke back when Kyrgios served for the set at 5-4 and then won a gripping tie-break 11-9, saving two set points along the way.
Serve was more dominant in the second set and, when another tie-break was required, Kyrgios saved a match point at 7-8 when Federer netted a return.
And the Aussie then showcased his talent, conjuring up an amazing cross-court return to go 10-9 up, and following it with a thundering ace to force a third set.
There was again nothing between the duo in a tense decider, which went to yet another tie-breaker.
And the temperamental Kyrgios came apart after a fan yelled out when he was leading 5-4 and he miscued a forehand.
The 21-year-old turned to the fan and unleashed a volley of obscenities before double-faulting, sending a risky 128-mph second serve long to give Federer another match point.
A service winner put the 35-year-old into another final and Kyrgios furiously smashed his racket three times against the court, while Federer prepared to celebrate.
The 18-time Grand Slam winner has made an amazing start to the season and has now won 10 matches in a row, as he looks to add this title to a 2017 trophy haul that already includes the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
“It felt very good,” said Federer. “You don’t very often play three breakers in a match. Winning breakers is always such a thrill.
“I tried to really fight for it. I can’t always show my fighting skills, it is great winning this way. It could have gone either way”
The 21-year-old Kyrgios said: “I had some ups and up and downs, bit of a roller coaster.
“Ultimately I think I put in a good performance. I thought the crowd would’ve enjoyed watching it, people at home would’ve enjoyed watching it.”
The Miami fans can now look forward to the mouth-watering prospect of another Federer-Nadal clash on Sunday night.
“My biggest rival,” said Federer. “It feels like old times.”