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Indian Wells 2017 Preview: Roger Federer to take on Stan Wawrinka in final

Federer and Wawrinka are close friends off the court Roger Federer set up an all-Swiss final at the Indian Wells Masters his 6th final at t ...

Preview 19 Mar 2017, 08:42 IST
Federer and Wawrinka are close friends off the court 

Roger Federer set up an all-Swiss final at the Indian Wells Masters – his 6th final at the tournament, with a straight sets win over American Jack Sock, 6-1, 7-6. The Swiss staved off a late challenge from the young American player in the second set after dominating the first, but came through in the end without the need for a decider. 

Now, Federer will face compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the finals; the two together won the Olympic doubles gold in 2008 and have represented the country at the Davis Cup. They have also played each other a record 22 times in the past, but this is Wawrinka’s first ever final at Indian Wells. 

Federer has so far been in unstoppable form, and has yet to drop a set at the tournament; he won the quarter-final by walkover after his opponent, Nick Kyrgios, retired with a sudden bout of food poisoning. 

Wawrinka has dropped two sets, taxed by lucky loser entry Yoshihito Nishioka and then by Austria’s Dominic Thiem, but took a thundering win over Pablo Carreno Busta at the semi-finals yesterday. 

The pair’s rivalry is so completely skewed in favour of Federer that many may write off Wawrinka’s trophy chances, especially considering the older Swiss’ form in the lead up to that Australian Open win. 

But Federer’s Australian Open title this year, his 18th Major, was preceded by a very taxing semi-final against Wawrinka, who repeatedly shifted the momentum of the match in his own favour throughout. 

The pair have met at Indian Wells twice before – in 2011 and 2013, with Federer winning on both occasions; interestingly, Federer did not make the finals either time. 

Federer has won four of the pair’s past 5 matches, with the exception of their quarter-final clash at Roland Garros in 2015, where Wawrinka would go on to defeat Novak Djokovic for his debut French Open title. 

Perhaps one of the pair’s best clashes, though, came at the semi-finals of the 2017 Australian Open; Wawrinka, down two sets to begin with and looking firmly on the back foot, came back thunderingly to breadstick Federer in the third before taking the fourth and confusing not just spectators – who had perhaps all but written Wawrinka off in that match, but Federer himself. 

Interestingly, Wawrinka was one of Federer’s constant – and earliest – hitting partners when he returned to practice last year after a break. 

Wawrinka, 5 years younger than Federer, has become known for his endurance and stamina, especially in five-set matches; the 31-year-old was seriously taxed on multiple occasions at the Australian Open this year and at the 2016 US Open, a title that he would eventually win – and despite back-to-back matches, has rarely shown the slightest hint of fatigue. 

But it is also to be noted that Federer is in perhaps the fittest fighting form of his life at the moment after taking a break from much of 2016 to concentrate on his fitness and recovery. The match should also be an enjoyable watch considering Federer and Wawrinka are close friends off the court as well. 

Given the hard-court record Federer has over Wawrinka and on his current form, one might feel comfortable in giving this one to Federer easily; Wawrinka, however, is not one of the top-ranked players without reason, and has exhibited a singular self-belief over the past years to win three Grand Slams, leaving him only a (seemingly impossible) Wimbledon win away from a Career Grand Slam. 

Prediction: Federer to take this one in three sets. 

P.S – We’re also predicting a laugh-filled final and the set breaks to go a little something like this...

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