Roger Federer Indian Wells Victory The Time Is Now Once Again

Federer

Photo courtesy of YstadsAllehanda.se

Roger Federer’s BNP Paribas Open trophy win was his fifth win in the Californian desert and came 13 years after his first win in Indian Wells, his then first ever ATP 1000 trophy. The Tennis Review looks back at the ninth seed’s run to the title which showcased a timeless game making the time right now his once again.

Roger Federer- tennis’ biggest name is engraved on 90 tennis trophies now after his 6-4, 7-5 defeat of third seed Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 BNP Paribas Open final, this latest addition to tennis’ most cramped trophy cabinet Federer’s 25 th ATP 1000 title.

Back in 2016, a year in which Federer’s silverware breathed a sigh of relief not to have another addition, a rare sound in the tennis world, the prospect of Federer beginning the 2017 season with the game’s two biggest trophies seemed as distant as his last slam win in 2012, but the time seems to be now, once again, for Federer as everything seems to be clicking into place- his own game, his rival’s struggles, and his tournament draws.

Timing is everything in tennis, and Federer’s timeless game and perfect timing on the ball is the main reason for his success right now. An aggressive, efficient, and positive game, so classic and easy in its execution, so easy on the eye one could be watching tennis, if the eyes stay on Federer and not on the slow high bouncing hard courts, in any time since the game began, the Swiss’ game shaped by Federer and Stefan Edberg, and now Federer and Ivan Ljubicic, to transcend Federer’s 35 years and slip in step and step inside and hit through as slow a court on which a tennis ball can bounce high before him.

Anyone looking to win Indian Wells will have to be a master of dealing with high bouncing balls and difficult conditions on court, the Californian desert venue famous for its conditions, venue and hospitality wise, and as infamous for its court conditions, medium slow courts sometimes cursed by wind that can make high bouncing spinning balls even more awkward .

When Federer first won in Indian Wells in 2004, Β he was in his prime, all that mattered was his game, the courts and conditions came second, he was faster anyway, the courts were, too, and that state of play was the same again in 2005, 2006. When Federer’s prime was over, he was losing before the finals to Guillermo Canas, Mardy Fish, Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis, and Novak Djokovic. The Swiss did not win the title again until 2012 when he made another charge to the No.1 spot only for an injury hit 2013 seeing him lose to Rafa Nadal. A year later, however, a revamped Federer made the finals again, losing to Djokovic in three sets each time, the Serbian able to chase down one more ball and keep Federer on court long enough to see the first service percentage drop and the errors creep in, the Swiss’ attacking mindset undone by Djokovic’s staying powers.

If Djokovic has staying powers over a course of a match, Federer has shown he has them over a career. 17 years ago he played his first Indian Wells, losing Nicholas Kiefer in his opening match, and 13 years ago he took his first title. Having already put together arguably the greatest career in tennis history, Federer is still adding to his legacy, coming back, aged 35, from six months off after a first career surgery.

After winning the Australian Open, Federer’s loss to qualifier Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai suggested he might be back to slam winning ways but not to No.1 consistency, however the Swiss did suffer an injury in Melbourne, and the rest after Dubai served him well- Federer had taken care of himself, and so it seemed, did his early round draw in IW, serving up Stephane Robert who lacks any weapons to hurt a fit Federer, and Steve Johnson, the kind of big serving first striker Federer feasts upon.

A fourth round match up which looked ominous with old rival Rafa Nadal waiting, was one Federer took care of in a stylish exhibition of attacking tennis done in 68 minutes– the Swiss’ backhand, the shot Nadal so often exploited on high bouncing hard courts, in top shape, the Federer serve strong enough (76% first serves won, 75% on the second), to dictate points so Nadal could not take advantage of the conditions, the Nadal serve crumbling under the pressure of a confident Federer, aware his opponent was a touch below his best and with the tennis IQ to take full advantage and win three matches in a row versus the rival who has posed the sternest questions regarding his Greatest Of All Time status.

Federer emerged from the so-called Quarter of death facing Nick Kyrgios, the #NextGen player defeating Novak Djokovic for the second time in two events, and found the quarter literally lifeless with Kyrgios withdrawing with food poisoning, and one wonders if Federer sent Kyrgios a thank you box of chocolates for when the Australian had recovered, the removal of Djokovic from his path a bonus for Federer. The Serbian may be struggling, and suffering from an elbow injury which has forced him out of Miami, but seeing Federer across the net may have, as it did with del Potro in the third round, revived the second seed somewhat and brought out the best in him, the kind of best that has seen him go 3-0 versus Federer at Indian Wells.

The walkover over Kyrgios did not interrupt Federer’s rhythm, the Swiss defeating surprise semi-finalist Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6, and entering his 8th Indian Wells final where he would face the Swiss No.1 Stan Wawrinka who was making his BNP Paribas Open Championship match debut.

Federer had Wawrinka’s number on hard courts, defeating him in every one of their 14 hard court matches, most recently in the Australian Open semis, his greater overall consistency making the difference in a match up of attacking games.

In their 15th hard court match, Federer held serve to 5-4 in the first set, and with Wawrinka serving to stay in it, Federer involved him in some longer rallies, forcing the errors to take the set.

In the second set, Wawrinka broke back straight away for 1-0, but at 2-1, Federer got the break back, and held serve all the way to 6-5, and with the Swiss No.1 serving to stay in the match, Federer once again got into his service game, taking it to deuce, and then out played Wawrinka to take the match and the title.

Federer helped wipe away his rival’s tears in the presentation ceremony and referred to another Fairy tale run and the 17 years he had been visiting Indian Wells and looked forward to an 18th. With the perfect timing Federer has when it comes to his schedule, his game, and the decline of some of his rivals, the Swiss’s time seems now once again, and, currently ranked No.6, he could come into the 2018 BNP Paribas Open not just performing the twilight encore some expected at this stage of his career, but playing out the Federer No.1 Symphony instead.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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