BNP Paribas Open Final Preview Roger Federer Vs Stan Wawrinka
The BNP Paribas Open final will serve up one of tennis’ most striking rivalries of the past few seasons- Roger Federer versus Stan Wawrinka. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.
Men’s tennis 2017 has delivered plenty of surprises (Federer Vs Nadal in the AO final, Tsonga winning back to back titles, Dimitrov’s resurgence) and the BNP Paribas final is no exception. Roger Federer, recently defeated in Dubai by qualifier Evgeny Donskoy, was not the favorite to make the final from a quarter of death featuring Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro, and Stan Wawrinka had never been past the last eight and was looking in anything but ATP 1000 trophy winning form, having to win two final set tiebreakers back to back.
Look a little deeper though, and like all surprises, this one could have been guessed. In four time champion Federer’s last two appearances he has made the final (2014, 2015) only to be stopped by Novak Djokovic, so considering his recent return to the slam winning circle, another BNP Paribas Open final showing was always likely, and Wawrinka, a master of tennis disguise, has made a slam winning career of overturning a poor record at an event to become the champion.
Wawrinka’s presence in the final makes proceedings even harder to predict. The Swiss has struggled- needing final set breakers to beat Dominic Thiem and lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka- but the fight he has shown, his clinical semi-final win over Pablo Carreno Busta and his record in finals (11-1 since losing the ’13 s-Hertogenbosch final) suggest the Indian Wells 2017 final is within his reach despite his back being up against the wall, and an old foe who has had his number for most of their rivalry pushing him up against it.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) March 15, 2017
An old foe playing particularly well, too. Federer has not dropped a set this Indian Wells, a 6-3, 6-2 win over Rafa Nadal in round four the highlight, and he is fresher than Wawrinka, too, helped out by his quarter-final opponent Nick Kyrgios withdrawing with food poisoning.
Wawrinka will really have to bring his usual finals A game to Indian Wells to defeat Federer and cut the deficit of his 3-19 head to head, a stat which looks ominous, but means little in this match. Since Wawrinka’s entry into men’s tennis’ slam winning circle at the Australian Open 2014, he has beaten Federer twice, in the 2014 Monte Carlo final and in the 2015 French Open last eight, and he has taken him the distance in semi-finals at the ’14 WTF and the ’17 Australian Open. There have also been three straight set losses at the hands of Federer, a reflection of Federer’s overall better consistency.
But if there is one area where Federer has been consistent, and for all the wrong reasons, since 2014 when he revamped his game and became a contender again, it is in big finals and losing them. Since 2014, he may be 12-12 in finals, but he is 4-10 in the big ones (Slams, WTF, ATP 1000s). Taking recent history into account, though, Federer has, like Wawrinka has done so often, proven that stat means little, and what matters is how you play on the day.
A difficult final to predict, but there are some things we can count on in this match- some beautiful one handed backhands (a shot Federer has received many compliments on this week especially), two go for broke styles providing plenty of winners (even if this match is dominated by one player, it will be a performance worth watching) and two players with plenty to play for, and plenty of heart to give with an opportunity for one of them to have the two biggest titles of the season on his resume, and the other the chance to win a second ATP 1000 title and strengthen his reputation as tennis’ big match man.
Prediction: Federer to win in two sets. The Swiss No.2 has great rhythm and plenty of experience in IW finals, and is a bad match up for Wawrinka on hard courts.
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