Tuesday, March 21, 2017
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Roger Federer (center) celebrates after becoming the oldest champion in the BNP Paribas Open final at 35 on Sunday.
CALIFORNIA – A rejuvenated Roger Federer beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday to earn a record-tying fifth Indian Wells title and the distinction of being the tournament’s oldest winner.
The 35-year-old Swiss, 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 number six on Monday, told Sky Sports courtside.
“I understand the talk about (me getting back to) world number one 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 for the service break.
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 the event and becomes the oldest champion in the tournament’s history, surpassing Jimmy Connors who was 31 when he triumphed in 1984.
“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 ended. (Reuters)