Roger Federer’s 6-4, 7-5 win in the men’s final at Indian Wells, over countryman Stan Wawrinka, was the third time Federer had won the tournament after lifting the trophy at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne.
The first two titles came in 2004 and 2006, years he went on to end the season as the best-ranked player.
Will history repeat itself? Only time can tell. But with Federer, even the seemingly impossible can metamorphose into reality.
The tennis world expected him to be done and dusted. The experts curiously anticipated a graceful retirement after a Grand Slam drought since 2012, and a six-month injury layoff after last year’s Wimbledon.
At 35, he has not only defied age but also his staunchest critics to script what he calls a “fairytale” story for himself.
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The monumental wins he has carved out this season as an underdog have left even his devout followers awe-struck.
The quick, attacking returns on opponent’s serves, the aggressive and flawless backhand (cross-court and down the line), the improved athleticism, coupled with a new, bigger racket have seen Federer deny his opponents an opportunity to play their shots.
While his association with Stefan Edberg provided him the platform to unearth the required aggression in his game, plus his confidence, present coach Ivan Ljubicic has done a tremendous job in honing Roger’s erroneous backhand and cultivating his seemingly lost mental edge. And Federer could not have gifted Ivan a better gift than victory at Indian Wells on his coach’s 38th birthday.
With three successive defeats inflicted on his long-time nemesis, Rafael Nadal, and a 13-1 record this season (6-0 against the top ten), Roger is proving his comeback in the final set at the Australian Open was not a flash in the pan, given some critics had attributed his victory to the faster courts at Melbourne.
His 25th Masters title and 90th overall saw him surpass Andre Agassi as the oldest winner of a Master trophy, at 35 years and 223 days.
Any addition to his trophy cabinet will further cement his position as the greatest of all, who redefined the sport with his genius, passion and on-court wizardry.