Age­less Fed­erer wins again

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - TENNIS

A re­ju­ve­nated Roger Fed­erer beat fel­low Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 yes­ter­day to be crowned the old­est ever win­ner of In­dian Wells.

The 35-year-old claimed his fifth ti­tle at the BNP Paribas Open.

Fed­erer, who made a stun­ning re­turn from a six-month in­jury lay­off to win the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary, capped an im­pres­sive run in the Cal­i­for­nia desert in which he did not lose a set.

‘‘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 No 6, said court­side.

‘‘I un­der­stand the talk about [me get­ting back to] world No 1 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.’’

The re­match of the Aus­tralian Open semi­fi­nal saw the close friends hold serve un­til the 10th game of the open­ing set when Fed­erer, ahead 5-4, out­lasted Wawrinka in a thrilling 21-shot rally to claim the cru­cial ser­vice break.

Wawrinka, mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance in an In­dian Wells fi­nal, came out fir­ing in the sec­ond set as he be­came the first player to break Fed­erer at the tour­na­ment and then saved a pair of break points in the next game to move ahead 2-0.

But Fed­erer never wa­vered as he coolly won the next three games and then broke Wawrinka in the 12th game to close out the match in 80 min­utes.

On cham­pi­onship point, Fed­erer jumped right on Wawrinka’s serve and quickly had his com­pa­triot run­ning back and forth along the base­line.

Fi­nally, when Wawrinka reached out des­per­ately to send a fore­hand back, Fed­erer charged to the net and slammed down a run­ning fore­hand to clinch the ti­tle.

While the de­feat left Wawrinka an emo­tional wreck, with the teary-eyed US Open cham­pion call­ing him­self Fed­erer’s ‘‘big­gest fan’’, the pop­u­lar cham­pion was left to soak up a stand­ing ova­tion.

Fed­erer now joins Djokovic as a five-time win­ner at In­dian Wells and be­comes the old­est cham­pion in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory, sur­pass­ing Jimmy Con­nors who was 31 when he tri­umphed in 1984.

‘‘I was very sad when I couldn’t come here last year so just be­ing here is a beau­ti­ful feel­ing,’’ Fed­erer said dur­ing the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion.

‘‘It’s been just a fairy­tale week. I’m still on the come­back. I hope my body is go­ing to al­low me to keep on play­ing.

‘‘I came here for the first time 17 years ago so to be here again as the cham­pion is an amaz­ing feel­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘And I can’t tell you enough what it means to me.’’

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Roger Fed­erer cel­e­brates win­ning in In­dian Wells after beat­ing Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.

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