The BNP Paribas Open is one match away from its conclusion, and temperature and excitement is soaring up in Indian Wells regarding the all-Swiss contest between Swiss No. 1 Stan Wawrinka and Swiss No. 2 Roger Federer.
The road so far
The finalists have had varying experiences in their 5 matches — Stan had been down and almost out a few times, while Federer has just breezed past his opponents, without getting broken even once in his 5 matches.
Wawrinka, seeded 3rd, in spite of not having to face top seed Sir Andy Murray, didn’t have it easy with most of his earlier opponents at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. He had to contest back-to-back 3-setters in the Round of 16 and Quarter Finals, against Lucky-Loser Yoshihito Nishioka and No. 8 seed Dominic Thiem respectively, before taking out upcoming Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Swiss Maestro Roger Federer, on the other hand, was drawn into the historically stacked Quarter of Death, but came out victorious with a mouthwatering display of aggressive tennis. He had to overcome a steep contest against American Steve Johnson where he managed a 7-6, 7-6 scoreline, before sweeping aside any sort of resistance from his arch-rival Rafael Nadal in a 6-2, 6-3 victory. His highly awaited clash versus Aussie youngster Nick Kyrgios ended in disappointment as the latter withdrew due to food poisoning, and a refreshed Federer reached the final with a relatively easy 6-1, 7-6 victory over Jack Sock.
The 23rd installment of the Federer-Wawrinka rivalry happens to be a significant one.
- In the tournament’s 42-year history, this is the first non-American all-countrymen final.
- In the tournament’s history, this is the oldest combined final, with Federer being 35 years and 7 months and Wawrinka just a month shy of 32.
- Federer is eyeing a record-tying fifth Indian Wells title in his 7th final. Novak Djokovic currently leads with 5 titles.
- Whoever wins, will become the oldest ever Indian Wells champion, with the current record staying with Jimmy Connors at 31 years and 5 months.
- Federer, should he win, will become the oldest ever ATP Masters 1000 winner, surpassing Andre Agassi who won Cincinnati 2004 aged 34 years and 3 months.
- Wawrinka, having won the US Open last year, is looking to win his 2nd title in as many finals on American soil.
Wawrinka’s take on the final
“It’s an amazing result to be in the final here in Indian Wells, one of the best Masters 1000s, to have a chance to play for a trophy. When I start to win matches, I start to get the confidence, the good feeling with the ball, with the way I’m playing, I play better and better. Normally, by the semifinal, final, I always play good matches. That doesn’t mean I always win, but I know that I’m going to play some good tennis.”
Federer’s take on the final
“I think he does a really nice job of defending and then going from defense to offense. He’s improved his serve. Especially as he goes deeper in the tournament, his confidence builds. That’s when he’s harder to stop. I have variation. I have an offensive mindset that’s in my DNA. And sometimes for a player like Stan, he likes to have a bit more time and I can maybe rush him. But we’ll see if that’s possible this time. I’m his No. 1 fan when it comes to his success and how he’s been able to do it, because we’ve worked with the same fitness coach for many years now. So I know a lot of what’s going on in Stan’s life and he knows a lot of what’s going on in mine. We always support one another.”
They are rivals on court, and close friends off it. Their matches, though heavily one-sided with Federer leading by a staggering 19-3, brings a certain amount of excitement, owing to their backhand finesse, and Federer’s tactical genius complimented by Stanimal’s brutal power. Stan has never beaten Roger outside of clay, and whether history will repeat itself, or, if it’ll be Stan’s day to remember, that is to be seen. But one thing is for certain, it is going to be an exciting Sunday at the Coachella valley!