INDIAN WELLS – When the BNP Paribas Open draw was made last week and the “quarter-of death” section was revealed, there was concern the bad luck of the draw would preclude the event’s two best players from meeting in today’s final.
After watching Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer roll through their respective semi-finals yesterday, those concerns have abated. The two best players in the draw will be vying for the first Masters 1000 title of the season Sunday afternoon.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) March 19, 2017
Federer has been at his GOAT-est best all week. His forehand has been on fire, his backhand has been a human highlight reel. He’s moving freely, attacking at will, he’s even brought the SABR back – for entertainment purposes only.
But it’s his serve that’s been the real story. Federer has faced only one break point all week. To give you some perspective, Federer has 89 career ATP titles: in only four of those did he not drop serve. (two of them came in Cincinnati). Put simply, it’s almost impossible to beat someone you can’t break – especially if that someone is Roger Federer.
Across the net today will be countryman, Davis Cup partner and good friend Wawrinka, whose march to the final was nearly assured after his narrow escape in the round of 16 against Japanese lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka.
Big match Stan has this pattern now. He survives early-round scares, then goes on to win tournaments. At last summer’s US Open he was down match point in an early round tussle with Brit Daniel Evans, only to roar back to win the match and, eventually, his third major title.
Past performances do not predict future outcomes, of course. And for Wawrinka, that might be good thing. He is an appalling 3-19 against Federer in their head-to-head, with his only three victories coming on red clay. He must rely on more recent history; Wawrinka went the distance with Federer before bowing out on the hard courts of Melbourne in a very well played five-set semi-final.
They’re 6,000 miles from home but to anyone who follows the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells is a second home for Federer. The crowds have been vociferously behind him every match this week. Today will be no different.
Hopefully Wawrinka will handle the overwhelming support for his opponent. Then again, he’s used to it by now. Even Federer’s wife Mirka hasn’t always kept her cool when the two meet.
These two play great tennis matches. This Sunday afternoon on Stadium 1 should be no different.