After winning the Australian Open after his surgery and his 18th Grand Slam singles title in January, Roger Federer, 35, breezed through a storm watch of a draw in Indian Wells without losing a set to win the season’s second significant tournament.
Federer beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday. With this win Federer joined Novak Djokovic as the only men to win five Indian Wells titles, adding to those he won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.
“I have totally exceeded my expectations. My goal was to be top eight by Wimbledon. This is just a dream start,” Federer, who will climb four spots to world number six on Monday, told Sky Sports courtside.
“This was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells. The goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon, so I’m there much, much faster,” he said. “I will make the plan for the remainder of the season, especially for the clay, after Miami, and then see also what the goals are because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”
At 35 and seven months, he became the oldest champion in the desert tournament’s history, surpassing Jimmy Connors, who was 31 years and five months when he won in 1981. “It’s been just a fairytale week once again,” said Federer, who missed Indian Wells last year because of injury.
Federer tied the tourney record of Novak Djokovic, who lost in the fourth round, while winning his 90th career title, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl on the all-time list in the Open era.
“I understand the talk about (me getting back to) world number one with Andy (Murray) and Novak (Djokovic) not playing well and I’ll try to back it up. But this is my 90th (tour-level) title so I’ll try to enjoy this first.”
“I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did.”
His twin daughters cheered and jumped up and down in a box above the court when Federer put away a high forehand volley while keeping Wawrinka pinned deep behind the baseline on match point.
“I couldn’t be more happy. It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Last year I didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”
Federer dropped serve just once in five matches, losing the first game of the second set against No 3 seed Wawrinka. He saved one break point against Rafael Nadal in the forth round, and never lost set in the tournament. Seeded ninth, Federer advanced to the semifanals via walkover when Nick Kyrgios withdrew.
“The way he’s playing is just so beautiful,” Wawrinka said. “Everything looks perfect. He’s moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He’s doing everything you can do on the tennis court.”
“I’ve lost some tough ones against you, but when you played the final in Australia, I was your biggest fan,” a choked up Wawrinka told Federer at the trophy ceremony. “So congratulations on your comeback and congratulations on today.”
Although he owns three Grand Slam titles, Wawrinka was playing in just his fourth Masters final and hass won just one of the prestige events, beating Federer in the final at Monte Carli on 2014.