Roger Federer’s dream start to 2017 continues as the Swiss won his fifth title at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, beating compatriot Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in the final. For the first time since 2006, Federer has claimed the first two big titles of the season, having previously won the Australian Open, also beating Wawrinka on his way to that title.
Both men were strong on serve for the better part of the match, but with the exception of a hiccup at the start of the second set, Federer was untouchable, only facing three break points, all in the same game, and cruising through the rest of his service games which put all the pressure on Wawrinka. The younger Swiss would crack late in both sets and Federer broke to claim them and the title.
Federer breaks through late
The final finally got underway at 2:50 pm local time, nearly two hours after its scheduled start time. Once the match got underway, neither Swiss appeared to have been affected by the delay, with both breezing through their service games with their powerful shot making. In fact, neither man faced any pressure on their serves through the first nine games of the opening set, without so much as a deuce being contested, let alone a break point.
Throughout the set, Federer had taken a couple of small leads in Wawrinka service games, only for the younger Swiss to respond with raw power and erasing the tiny opening. But Wawrinka was unable to return the favour, never getting any looks on the Federer serve.
Serving to stay in the opening set at 4-5, Wawrinka was finally unable to simply blow Federer away and found himself facing the first break point of the opening set, which was also a set point. The rally of the set took place, with both men pulling each around the baseline with some incredible shot making. After several close calls, Federer consistent pressure finally drew an error long as the ninth seed wrapped up the opening set 6-4.
Federer roars back for title
Wawrinka quickly put the opening set behind, finally finding a return rhythm in the opening game of the second set. Teeing off on his returns, the third seed rushed to a 0-40 lead. Federer would save the first two, but miss-hit a backhand well long on the third to surrender a break for the first time at the tournament this year. Federer was not discouraged, hanging in in the next game and battled to break point at 40-Ad. It appeared that he had converted when Wawrinka’s shot was called long, but hawkeye revealed it to be in. Federer quickly brought up a second with a forehand volley winner, but Wawrinka saved that too and went on to hold for 2-0.
Federer would keep coming and two game later, blasted his way to a double break point opportunity. This time, he kept the point alive with a desperation lunging backhand slice into Wawrinka’s feet which draw a short return that Federer ripped for a forehand winner to level at 2-2. Wawrinka would have to fight through a deuce in his following service game to keep Federer from running away with the set, holding for 3-3.
Normalcy would resume after the wild start to the set. Wawrinka found himself serving to stay in the set once again at 4-5 and, despite a crowd loudly trying to spur Federer to a break for the match, held to prevent a repeat of the opening set. Federer would hold for a 6-5 lead and this time, the third seed had a tougher time. Some poorly timed errors prevent Wawrinka from putting the game away and eventually netted a backhand to give Federer match point. The older Swiss pulled out some big shots to push Wawrinka off the court, eventually putting away a forehand volley to claim his fifth Indian Wells crown.
By the numbers
Federer dominated all facets of the match, hitting more winners (23 to 17) and fewer unforced errors (15 to 21) than Wawrinka, along with winning 78 percent of his first serve points to his fellow Swiss’ 70. A huge area for Federer was second serve return points won. He claimed 61 percent of points where Wawrinka missed his first serve. That included match point. Federer converted three of his five break points, while saving two out of the three that he faced, all of them coming in the opening game of the second set.
With the win, Federer will jump from number ten to number six in the world. The title is Federer’s fifth in Indian Wells and 25th Masters 1000 title overall. It is his second title of 2017 in three events, having previously won the Australian Open back in January. It’s the third time in Federer’s career that he has won the Australian Open and Indian Wells in the same year. He will look to compete the Australia-Indian Wells-Miami hat trick for the second time over the upcoming fortnight at the Miami Open, where he will likely be seeded fourth.