While neither of the top two players in Djokovic and Murray made the final, the ATP Indian Wells final still looks a cracker with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka facing off for the 23rd time in the careers. It is the first Indian Wells final since 2001 with two men from the same country facing off and the first to be not between Americans.
Federer’s route to the final:
- R2: Stephane Robert 6-2 6-1
- R3: Steve Johnson 7-6 7-6
- R4: Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-3
- QF: Nick Kyrgios w/o
- SF: Jack Sock 6-1 7-6
After not playing since Wimbledon, Federer began 2017 with an 8 match winning streak that included the Australian Open before his bizarre Dubai loss to Evgeny Donskoy, blowing a winning position multiple times against the Russian. Back at Indian Wells, he has looked utterly dominant with his crushing victory over Rafael Nadal the most impressive he has looked in that matchup for a long time. Federer has always been very strong on serve but this week has been exceptional, facing just one break point in four matches. That was against Nadal, who failed to convert in their round four matchup. Nick Kyrgios pulling out of their quarter final match helped Federer but given the way he has been easing through matches this week, any signs of fatigue are probably not there.
Wawrinka’s route to the final:
- R2: Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 6-4
- R3: Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 6-3
- R4: Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6 6-3 7-6
- QF: Dominic Thiem 6-4 4-6 7-6
- SF: Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 6-2
Meanwhile, Wawrinka’s route to the final has been far more strenuous with back to back final set tiebreaks needed to make it as far as the semi finals. Being broken 5 times by Nishioka in particular is surprisingly poor for a top player but he toughed it out to advance. Like Federer, Wawrinka was fortunate enough to have a semi final opponent playing in their first Masters 1000 semi final. Carreno Busta had made the semi finals on the back of 2 qualifier wins, a walkover and victory against Pablo Cuevas – not the toughest of runs to a Masters 1000 semi final. The Spaniard was outclassed as Wawrinka controlled the match, dropping just 10 points (22%) on serve all match and not facing a single break point.
While few of the matchups were when Wawrinka had established himself as an elite player and a grand slam winner, the head to head still remains nasty reading for Stan. He is 3-19 against his countryman and has gone winless in 14 attempts on hard courts. He came close again at this year’s Australian Open, taking Federer to five sets after losing the first two. It would be difficult to predict Wawrinka can finally reverse that awful run with the form a fresh Federer is in, looking unbreakable and playing some great attacking tennis.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets