Indian Wells final preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Federer

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

41 Comments on Indian Wells final preview and prediction: Wawrinka vs. Federer

  1. I think I’ll go with Federer in 3, although, again, I will not be the least bit surprised if Stan wins…

    • I had to Google Cal Naughton Jr. to figure out that you are referencing Talladega Nights haha. Touché on the analogy, Hawks. 🙂

  2. At the end Fed reached final without much fight despite all tennis world thought it would be Group of Death, nobody foresaw it turned out to be cupcake draw.

    • All because of Kyrgios – taking out Djoko and then withdrawing, giving Fed a nice walkover into the SF. I assume had Kyrgios not withdrawn, Fed would have it tough at the QF and might not play as well in the SF vs Sock.

    • Actually a lot of pundits and fans predicted that Novak would lose to Kyrgios or Zverev. It was the Rafa match that people thought Fed would lose.

      • Not me, after seeing how up and down Rafa was in his match vs Verdasco. I thought it would be more competitive though, not expecting Rafa to lose so meekly.

  3. Depends if WaWa catches sight of Mirka 😉

    Fed was looking a tad frayed during the SF 2nd set. After the slow start Sock got into his stride and gave him a hard time even in the TB. Sitting on the fence for the final but on balance reckon he will clean up his game and take the title in 3

  4. Interesting that nobody says “Federer of old”, Fedexpress or vintage Fed, becouse it feels like new Federer.
    Nadal should forget about training for his “Nadal of old” shape as well. Imagine how exiting it would be if he would be ultra aggressive for every shot, raging like a bull?Nadal probably feels pressure or responsibility from his team, so he plays safe, not to loose. Feds team on the other hand encourages him to go all out and dominate, be himself.
    The same goes for Wawrinka, his coach has done amazing job to develop his Stanimal game.

    • Well young Nadal was raging like a bull and was explosive on the court, none of that defensive waiting for things to happen mentality, so the ‘Nadal of old’ could very well refer to that and which we are urging Rafa to be once again.

  5. I just can’t kick this feeling about the possibility of “Big Time” Stan showing up today like he always does in big finals… It’s the same feeling I got before each of the last two Fed/Rafa matches. I believed Rafa was favored to win, but I also had this sneaky feeling that Fed would pull it out, which he did… That’s the feeling I have about Stan today. Even though Fed “should” (as Sir Hawkingtons would say) win today, I see no reason why Stan wouldn’t do what he always does in big finals against Big 3. Even though it was on clay, Fed was favored to win their one final they’ve contested before, but Stan pulled off the win. Yesterday I said I was going with Fed in 3 today, but I’m rescinding that prediction. I am now not making any prediction because I think each guy has an equal chance!

  6. Stan just saved two break points to consolidate his break… I knew Stan would at LEAST give us a match. He lost the first set in Monte Carlo, too…

  7. You see right there, Fed’s backhand is no Stan’s backhand. Rafa better get his forehand back in action and it will be okay. I will comment more on Rafa-Fed after this match as I don’t want to ruin this thread as this match is live.

    This is good tennis. Rooting for stan 🙂

  8. Fed is REALLY confident about his game these days. Those half volleys that he hits from the baseline with such aggression are nothing but signs of sheer confidence.

  9. Does anyone know if Stan saved MP in the Monte Carlo final? I feel like Fed either had MP or served for the match or something…

  10. Well played Fed! deserves to win. Stan was not close to being Stanimal though. So, is Fed playing Miami?

    • Stan far too inconsistent. He broke too early in the second set I feel, and was anxious to hold on to it and so started making more errors and missing his shots. Anyway, I doubt he would win either even if it went to a third set.

      Fed was too crafty for this Stan; if it’s on clay then Stan would have the edge over Fed. Fed didn’t play as well as when facing Rafa; Fed made more errors in this final but was still good enough to win in straight sets.

      I do feel only a top form Kyrgios could make a match with Fed on this surface; he has all the tools to do so and is quick enough to match Fed’s aggressive play.

      It’s not easy to win in windy desert conditions and when it’s difficult to control the ball. It’s a testament as to how good Fed, Djoko and Rafa are being multiple title winners here. I do remember Murray’s only final in 2009 facing a Rafa in very windy conditions, and how Murray cursed and sworn all the way throughout the match, while Rafa just kept his cool, moved his legs to adjust to the windy conditions and won with lopsided score line.

  11. ROGER WINS ALLEZ??? and how bout Novak and Andy pulling out both with elbow injuries dang that’s some opportunity for Roger stan Rafa and the rest of the top guys.

  12. It’s actually nice to see Stan show some emotion after a loss… Sometimes I feel like maybe he doesn’t care enough, but judging by his runner-up speech, he clearly cares!

  13. Well at least Fedal can’t meet before the finals in Miami.

    #GOAT passes Rafa in the process for No. 6.


  14. Federer was not pumped up for this match, but he was so confident. I hope he will never consider to chase nr 1 ranking. Being healthy and having real shot at winning GS and Masters is so much more fun.

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