Indian Wells Masters: Roger Federer registers his career-best start to a season
What’s the story?
Roger Federer registered his best ever start to a season by booking his berth in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on Saturday. The 20-time Grand Slam champion had to work hard to stave off the challenge of World No. 49 Borna Coric for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win.
It was Federer’s 17th win since the start of the 2018 season, which has seen him grab titles at the Australian Open and Rotterdam.
In case you didn’t know
Federer’s previous best start to a season was in 2006, when he won 16 matches in a row until losing to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Dubai Open. It was the year he finished with a stunning record of 92-5 and 12 titles.
The heart of the matter
In blustery conditions, the World No. 1 found it difficult to have any sort of rhythm as his unforced error count kept mounting. Federer faced the prospect of exiting the Indian Wells Masters when he trailed 5-7, 2-4 against the 21-year-old Croatian.
It was extremely uncharacteristic of the maestro, who hadn’t dropped a set all through his campaign at this tournament this year. But it was the difference in the experience that titled the balance towards Federer at the business end of the second and the third sets.
As Coric got tight, the five-time Indian Wells champion loosened up and cut down on his errors. Federer broke his young opponent twice to set up a decider. The third set began with an early exchange of breaks and once more Federer fell behind a break at 3-4.
Coric could not produce any resistance after that as the legend came storming back to win the next three games en route to the final.
In the final, Federer will take on the sixth seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who swatted aside the 32nd seeded Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-3.
Federer leads their head-to-head record 18-6 and beat the tall Argentine thrice in their four meetings last year. But the former US Open champion did get a big win over the Swiss in the US Open quarter-finals.
Del Potro is currently on a 10-match winning streak, having triumphed at the Mexican Open earlier this month.
That age is just a number, Federer proved again. Even at 36, the Swiss ace shows absolutely no signs of tiredness or slowing down.
Having survived this roller coaster, it would be interesting to see if he can lay his hands on the Indian Wells trophy for a record sixth time against an opponent as dangerous as Del Potro.