March 20, 2017
Roger Federer’s dream start to 2017 just turned into a fairytale as he brushed aside Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 to claim his 90th title and fifth at Indian Wells.
Now Federer fans are wondering whether he could do the seemingly impossible – and reclaim the world number one spot.
He has already risen to sixth in the world after this victory. Not bad for a man who revealed that he had only been targeting the top eight by the end of Wimbledon this summer.
The great man’s only anxious moment came when his serve was finally broken for the first time in the tournament at the start of the second set by the pugnacious Wawrinka.
Typically, however, Federer stayed calm, set about hitting back, and played some of his most spectacular tennis. It was Wawrinka who tightened again when it really mattered to leave his compatriot triumphant.
Such was Federer’s level of confidence and aggression that he never really looked as though he would be beaten.
Wawrinka was reduced to tears at the end. ‘I’m really tired,’ he explained at the end of a difficult campaign that saw him lose to his hero once more, with glory in sight.
Federer laughed as his friend Stan struggled with his emotions – and laughed again when Wawrinka called him an unprintable name by way of playful retaliation.
But how can Federer take anything seriously right now, when he is in dreamland and can hardly believe what is happening to him?
‘It has been a fairytale and it is a beautiful feeling to be champion here again,’ he explained courtside. ‘It is maybe not as surprising as Australia but it is still unbelievably surprising for me that I was able to back it up here in America.
‘I have totally exceeded my expectations, my goal was to be top eight after Wimbledon, I have time now and I am top eight already.
‘It could have been so different. If I had lost in the first round in Australia I would have been 35th in the world so this is a dream start to the year.
‘I understand the talk of world number one, especially with Novak and Andy not playing in Miami. So I will try to back it up there with a good tournament.
‘Then we will reassess my goals but I am not chasing rankings, I want to win tournaments. I am happy to have won this one so I want to enjoy it.
‘I hope my body keeps allowing me to do this for much longer.’
Whilst Federer knows – and hinted even there – that he is only one serious injury away from retirement at the age of 35, he must surely be as confident as he has been in years that he can win Wimbledon one last time.
He feels so at home on the grass – and it is no coincidence that his goal for the year revolved around Wimbledon itself.
So tennis fans can watch Federer’s stunning progress between now and Wimbledon knowing that they are likely to be treated to something truly special when Wimbledon 2017 comes around in a few short months.
As for Wawrinka, he too should be thinking about how he can release his full potential at Wimbledon. It is the one Grand Slam that he needs, to be able to boast a Career Slam himself.
Don’t be surprised if it is Federer who stands in his way in south-west London when the time comes for all the stars to gather at the greatest tournament of them all.