You’ll definitely see the Swiss flag flying tomorrow as fellow countrymen Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka face off. The BNP Paribas Masters 1000 marks the site of 23rd meeting of these two. While the stats favor “The Maestro,” who leads the head-to-head match-up 19-3, “Stan the Man” has been playing some of the best tennis of his career. Who’ll reach the proverbial Matterhorn?
On his path to the final, Wawrinka dispatched Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta in today’s semifinal match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. While he made quick work of today’s match, Wawrinka’s challenges really came in Round 4 and the quarterfinals. Both Lucky Loser Yoshihito Nishioka (Round 4) and Dominic Thiem (quarterfinal) tested Stan, with both victories coming in third set tiebreaks. When asked about surviving tough matches, while facing break points, Wawrinka said “Well, for me most of the time I try to learn from what I maybe did wrong in that match, why I was that close to lose, why I wasn’t playing great, why I wasn’t doing the right thing. That’s how I see it. For sure, sometimes when you save match point or serve twice for the match, you get a little bit lucky, but you push to have luck on your side, also. You don’t just get the luck like that (snapping fingers).” Tomorrow’s meeting with Roger Federer may prove to be the biggest challenge of the tournament.
Federer’s level of play has been impressive, wielding a weapon on the form of his laser sharp backhand and a serve that has yet to be broken. He reached today’s semifinal against American Jack Sock after a quarterfinal walkover. Citing food poisoning, Australian Nick Kyrgois withdrew, sparing Federer a very physical, intense match in the Indian Wells heat. In fact, today was the first match Federer played in the mid-day heat. In one hour, 14 minutes, Federer won over the first-time Masters 1000 semifinalist Sock. After dropping the first set 6-1, Sock rebounded, held serve, and took the second set to a tiebreak. Yet, it was not to be as Federer won 7-6(4). When asked about playing fellow countryman Wawrinka, Roger has respect for his opponent: “I think he does a really nice job of, you know, defending and then creating — going from defense to offense, you know. He’s improved his serve. Especially as he goes deeper in the tournament, you know, confidence builds. That’s when he’s harder to stop. You know, I have variation. I have an offensive mindset that’s in my DNA. And sometimes for a player like Stan, he likes to have a bit more time and I can maybe rush him. But we’ll see if that’s possible tomorrow.”
While the Swiss are known for neutrality, this match will be anything but. Tomorrow’s All-Swiss Final begins at 1:00 pm (Pacific), where Center Court will bear witness to the battle of the two best backhands on the ATP tour.