Novak Djokovic has won his fourth consecutive tournament, beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in a gruelling final at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
For his part, the Swiss world number three was solidly beaten by his old rival Nadal 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Djokovic has won 26 consecutive matches since December, and his record of 24-0 in 2011 is the best to begin a year since Ivan Lendl started 25-0 in 1986.
Djokovic is the first man to win Indian Wells and Key Biscayne back to back since Roger Federer in 2006.
Federer’s flop will fuel speculation he’s losing ground to the game’s best players at the age of 29, but it’s a proposition the Swiss rejects.
"I know I can do many more things in the game," he said. "I'm very excited by what's to come still. I don't feel like I'm 35 like you guys make me sound I am. I'm still only 29 and I have many more years left."
The first meeting in the United States in six years between Rafa and Roger generated plenty of buzz, with tickets shortly before the match fetching several hundred dollars. They met before a final round for the first time since 2007 because Federer recently slipped from second to third in the rankings and landed in Nadal’s half of the draw.
Federer is 0-4 this year against Nadal and Djokovic and 22-0 against everyone else.
"I wish I could play better right now against those guys, but it is what it is," he said. "I'm the last guy who gets pulled all the way down and then can't get up for the next tournament."
Nadal never lost serve, converted four of five break-point chances and committed only ten unforced errors to 31 for Federer.
swissinfo.ch and agencies