Roger Federer celebrates match point against Stan Wawrinka.
FORGET the comeback talk. Roger Federer is back.
He defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 to win a record-tying fifth Indian Wells title in an all-Swiss final on Sunday to go with his record 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open in January after missing most of last year with various injuries.
Federer kept reminding everyone during the ATP Masters 1000 event that he was “on the comeback” and, wanting to see how he felt, hadn’t planned beyond the first three months of year He might want to think bigger now.
“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 on Monday, told Sky Sports 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.”
Federer tied the tournament record of Novak Djokovic, who lost in the fourth round, while winning his 90th career title, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl on the all-time list in the Open era.
Roger Federer holds up the Indian Wells winners’ trophy.
At 35 years and seven months, Federer became the oldest champion in the desert tournament’s history, surpassing Connors, who was 31 years and five months when he won in 1981.
His twin daughters cheered and jumped up and down in a box above the court when Federer put away a high forehand volley while keeping Wawrinka pinned deep behind the baseline on match point.
“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. And I can’t tell you enough what it means to me.”
Federer dropped serve just once in five matches, losing the first game of the second set against No.3 seed Wawrinka. He saved one break point against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, and never lost set in the tournament. No. 9 seed Federer advanced to the semifinals via walkover when Nick Kyrgios withdrew. In an all-Russian women’s final, Elena Vesnina defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (7-6) 7-5 6-4.
Stan Wawrinka plays a backhand against Roger Federer.
Federer will move up four spots to No. 6 in the ATP world rankings on Monday.
He hit 23 winners, including 16 off his backhand in the 80-minute match. Wawrinka had 17 winners and 21 unforced errors in front of the announced crowd of 17,382 that didn’t fill the stadium.
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.
“I’ve lost some tough ones against you, but when you played the final in Australia, I was your biggest fan,” he said.
Vesnina had never advanced beyond the third round in singles and just last year she lost in the first round of qualifying, although she has won three doubles titles at the tournament.
She beat No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber and No. 12 Venus Williams on her way to the biggest final of her career at age 30.
Elena Vesnina poses with the women’s winner’s trophy.
Kuznetsova is 0-3 in finals here, also finishing runner-up in 2007 and 2008. At age 31, Kuznetsova was the fifth-oldest women to reach the final. But the two-time major champion struggled playing with the lead as the No. 8 seed in front of hundreds of empty seats.
“I didn’t feel good today because she was very aggressive and I was a little bit out of my game,” Kuznetsova said.
“I couldn’t figure out a lot the wind and stuff like that. But still, I give a lot of credit to her because she was aggressive.”
Congrats @rogerfederer winning #indianwells #Masters1000 ! Your like good red wine…the older u get ,better u become !!!
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) March 19, 2017
Yeah @rogerfederer won!!! Like fine wine he is getting better with age! #stillgotit #ageisjustanumber
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) March 20, 2017
Federer is playing at an untouchable level. His shots are beautifully-struck, taken early, and placed with purpose. He is peaking at 35.
— Nick Nemeroff (@NNemeroff) March 19, 2017
Great tennis @rogerfederer and @stanwawrinka today. Amazing speech afterwards,Stan. Congratulations guys
— James Blake (@JRBlake) March 19, 2017
Wawrinka, fighting fatigue and tears: "I want to congratulate Roger. He’s laughing. He’s an asshole but it’s OK."
— Carl Bialik (@CarlBialik) March 19, 2017
🐐🇨🇭🎾Roger Federer Slams/Masters/WTFs, updated 🎾🇨🇭🐐
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 19, 2017