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Roger Federer captured a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday, defeating close friend Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 on a sunny afternoon in Indian Wells. Federer extended his overall lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry by a 20-3 margin.
Federer clinched his 90th tour-level crown and 25th in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. He also tied Novak Djokovic for the most titles in the California desert with five. Wawrinka, meanwhile, was looking to lift his second title at the Masters 1000 level following his win over Federer in Monte-Carlo three years ago.
FIRST SET - Federer 6-4
There are no secrets in this final, as the Swiss compatriots do battle on a glistening Sunday afternoon in the Coachella Valley. Having never lost to Wawrinka in 14 hard-court encounters, Federer knew exactly what was required of him to lift the trophy. Looking to remain aggressive and attack his countryman's second serve from inside the baseline, Federer was on the front foot from the start.
The 35 year old had faced just one break point the entire tournament entering the final and had been just as ruthless on return, converting 11 of 17 opportunities. The trend would continue on Sunday. With the set closing in on the business end, Federer pounced on his opponent's serve, rifling an inside-out forehand winner at 5-4 30/15. He would steal the opener two points later after a pulsating extended rally resulted in a Wawrinka unforced error. Federer claimed all six net points in the first set behind an aggressive, attacking formula. His bid to become the oldest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion moved to within one set.
90-Titles Club (Open Era)
Player Tour-Level Titles
SECOND SET - Federer 7-5
When Wawrinka unloads on his world-class one-handed backhand, momentum can turn in an instant. That's exactly what happened to open the second set. The Swiss used his preferred stroke to open the court and he caught his countryman in an uncharacteristic passive stretch, breaking immediately. Two obliterated forehands were followed by a scintillating backhand and Wawrinka took command.
The shot of the match came off Federer's racquet in the third game of the second set, with the former World No. 1 sprinting into a tricky backhand slice volley that died immediately after crossing the net...
With tournament owner Larry Ellison joined by Rod Laver, Bill Gates and actors Jon Hamm and Charlize Theron in The Champions' Box, Federer would not fall behind for long. A scorched forehand down-the-line drew proceedings level at 2-all and Federer would consolidate a game later.
Winners flowed more freely from both players' racquets as the second set progressed. Federer and Wawrinka painted the lines with gripping backhand-to-backhand exchanges. A blasted backhand winner gave Wawrinka a 30/0 lead when serving to stay in the match at 5-4. He would hold, but Federer would not be denied two games later.
The 35-year-old's first championship point came with Wawrinka serving at 6-5 and he would secure the title with a volley winner after one hour and 20 minutes. Federer becomes the oldest player to lift a trophy at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level, continuing his hot start to the 2017 season.
I actually felt a little sorry for Stan. But there's not a whole lot he could do, he had his chances. It's hard to beat the Fed express when it's on a roll.
It was a great final nonetheless.