Roger Federer's best Indian Wells triumphs
At the age of 37, Roger Federer is at the top of the tennis world once again, conquering the 100th ATP title in Dubai on Saturday to enter the record books, return inside the top-5 and gain confidence before the first Masters 1000 event of the season at Indian Wells.
After back-to-back titles at the Australian Open in 2017 and 2018, Roger was unable to extend the winning streak in Melbourne, halted in the fourth round by Stefanos Tsitsipas whom he defeated in Dubai to serve revenge and head to the USA with goals and expectations.
Together with Novak Djokovic, Roger is the record-holder at Indian Wells with five crowns, missing a chance to add the sixth trophy to his tally when he wasted three match points against Juan Martin del Potro in the last year's final.
Roger is the player with the most appearances in the desert, entering the draw for the 18th time and standing on a 62-12 ratio, playing in the final in the last four visits at this event. Federer kicked off his Indian Wells journey with a mediocre 3-3 score before shifting into a higher gear in 2004, rattling off 18 victories in a row to become the first player with three consecutive titles, something that only Novak Djokovic managed to repeat.
Despite some unexpected losses (he failed to reach the last eight at Indian Wells five times), the Swiss also had some impressive wins in the desert when he was far in front of his rivals, delivering great numbers on both the serve and return to wrap up wins in no time at all.
In six out of 62 wins at Indian Wells, Roger managed to win at least 63% of the points and it all started in 2008 when he toppled Nicolas Mahut 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes. Serving at 75%, Roger dropped four points behind the initial shot and delivered some impressive numbers on the return as well to secure five breaks and seal the deal in less than an hour for the place in the fourth round.
Three years later, Federer notched a 6-0, 6-2 win over Juan Ignacio Chela in 58 minutes, taking 64% of the overall points. Chela won 12 points on the return and created one break point but he failed to convert it and prolong the match at least for a few minutes, losing almost 60% of the points and suffering five breaks to stand no chance against such a strong rival.
In 2013, Denis Istomin was Roger first rival and the Swiss sealed the deal in 58 minutes, controlling the pace from start to finish and losing just four points in his games to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
Istomin was far from those numbers and gave serve away four times to propel Roger into the next round in less than an hour. Next year, Federer met the top-20 player Kevin Anderson in the quarter-final and it was an open battle in the first set before Roger prevailed 7-5, 6-1 in 69 minutes.
The Swiss won the opening set with a single break and he raced towards the finish line with a double break in set number two, losing nine points on serve in total to win 63% of the points and advance into the semis. For the third straight year, Federer delivered a full package at Indian Wells, ousting Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes in the quarter-final of 2015 edition.
Berdych never found the way to read Roger's serve and he couldn't do much behind the initial shot as well, landing 46% of the first serve in and suffering four breaks to hit the exit door in his worst performance against Roger since Hamburg 2005.
Last year, Federer demonstrated power against Filip Krajinovic in the third round for a 6-2, 6-1 triumph in 58 minutes, hitting 33 winners and 21 error to leave Filip far behind. The Serb did break Roger once although he never found the rhythm in his games, losing the majority of the points in the shortest and mid-range rallies to bow out and push Federer through.