Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will be facing each other for the 23rd time in their careers when they battle for the BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday afternoon.
Federer is dominating the head-to-head series 19-3, including 14-0 on hard courts. Wawrinka’s three victories have come on clay in 2009 (Monte-Carlo), 2014 (Monte-Carlo), and 2015 (French Open). He has lost three in a row against Federer since last getting the best of his fellow Swiss, most recently via a 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 decision in the Australian Open semifinals.
That was one of three five-set wins for Federer en route to his 18th Grand Slam title, as he also defeated Kei Nishikori (fourth round) and Rafael Nadal (final) after going the distance. The 35-year-old is 12-1 this season following straight-set victories in Indian Wells over Stephane Robert, Steve Johnson, Nadal, and Jack Sock to go along with a walkover from Nick Kyrgios in the quarterfinals.
Wawrinka took a much more circuitous route to the semis, twice needing three sets–and third-set tiebreakers–against Yoshihito Nishioka and Dominic Thiem. Nishioka served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the decider only to fall 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) and Thiem went down 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2). Wawrinka is 12-3 on the year and into his first title match on the heels of semifinal performances in Brisbane and at the Aussie Open.
“Roger, we all know him, so (there’s) nothing to say,” Wawrinka said when asked about the final.
There has been nothing good for Wawrinka on a hard court against Federer, and based on current form there is no reason think the tide will suddenly turn. The third seed has not produced his best stuff this fortnight, but he has survived because of clutch play in critical moments and in part thanks to a favorable draw. This is where the favorable draw ends, and if Federer continues his aggressive play he will be able to take time away from Wawrinka’s backhand.
Pick: Federer in 2