Federer Claims First Indian Wells Title Since 2012
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Roger Federer continued his magical comeback season and all but locked down comeback player of the year by March with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 Indian Wells Masters 1000 final. Federer has five career Indian Wells titles now, having claimed his first since the 2012 edition of the tournament, and adds the title to his trophy case for 2017 along with the Australian Open in Melbourne.
In a battle between two Swiss legends, who also happen to be the last two Slam champions, Federer had the upper hand early, and maintained a high level throughout the match. Wawrinka had an early break in the second set, and hung tight the whole way, but Federer was in control after going up a set and getting it back on serve in the second. Rather than being pushed into a potentially surprising second tiebreak, Federer pushed hard late to finish the match off and put his friend Wawrinka away. The result matches the general course of their rivalry, as Wawrinka, despite his own accomplishments, has always been in Federer’s shadow.
In a tournament that saw Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray make early exits, and end up injured. Federer was the star of the show by the end of the week. He didn’t drop a set in the California desert, claiming wins over Stephane Robert and Steve Johnson before dominating Rafael Nadal with strong backhand play, and then easing past Jack Sock in the semis, after Nick Kyrgios gave him a walkover due to stomach problems. It was still a good tournament for Sock as he claimed big wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori, having cemented himself firmly as the American #1, and a possible candidate for top 10 status and the year end World Tour Finals.
Wawrinka started his journey with routine wins over Paolo Lorenzi and Philipp Kohlschreiber. He was a break down twice in the final set against Yoshihito Nishioka in round 3, but the upset minded Japanese ran out of gas and choked under pressure. After surviving that test, Wawrinka slipped past Dominic Thiem in a third set tiebreak, and then had an easier time against surprise semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta. PCB gets a ton of points for making the semis, but his path didn’t feature a top 25 victory, thus this surprise result is a bit of a mirage.
Veterans Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram put away Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in an all-veteran battle to take home the doubles title in the desert. The first Masters tournament of 2017 going down as a resounding success.