Roger Federer will face Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss final at the BNP Paribas Open after defeating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6(4) in Saturday’s semifinals in Indian Wells.
The 35-year-old Federer is through to his seventh final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and is looking to win the title for the fifth time, adding to his victories in 2004 (d. Henman), 2005 (d. Hewitt), 2006 (d. Blake) and 2012 (d. Isner).
Federer will bid to win his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and 90th tour-level title overall. He takes a 19-3 head-to-head lead over Wawrinka into the final and has won their past three meetings, including a five-set battle in the Australian Open semifinals in January.
"I think I definitely played great in the first set," said Federer. "I came out and really saw the ball well. I think Jack didn't have his best first set, but I found a way to take advantage of that quickly, hardly made any mistakes and was able to press.
"The second set was more like what I expected the first set to be, to be quite honest, before the match. It was hard to break and return well off Jack's heavy serve.
"I had to rely a lot on my second serve. I'm happy it was there, because I didn't serve particularly well in that second set. Things got a bit more complicated, but it was definitely a good feeling to get through in two sets and to be back in another finals here."
"I think I've just been very focused," said Federer. "That's something that usually goes away when don't play for a while. But I guess I have a lot of confidence from Australia, still."
Federer’s backhand was telling as he raced past long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the fourth round earlier in the week, and he dominated from the baseline again against Sock, rolling back the years to claim victory in 74 minutes.
A rifling backhand winner from Federer did lasting damage in the fourth game, as Sock then netted a smash and double faulted to lose serve to love and trail 1-3. A potent forehand winner from Federer gave the Basel native a double break lead at 5-1 as he cruised to a one-set lead.
A bathroom break for Sock at the end of the first set settled the American and he fended off break point in the seventh game to stay close on serve with Federer, ultimately forcing a tie-break. Sock sparked hope for his fans as he hit a backhand winner for a 3/1 lead. But Federer immediately pegged him back and went on to win six of the next seven points to triumph for the third time in three meetings with Sock.
"The first one got away from me pretty quick," said Sock. "I think he's been doing that to players pretty consistently this year, the Rafa match and some other ones he's played.
"He just can get on top of you pretty quick. Just went in, took a minute, regrouped, figured out what changes I needed to make. Executed well on my service game, had a few looks on his serve to get in the game. Didn't execute a few shots there, especially towards end of the second set."
"I didn't give myself a good look in the breaker, got up a quick mini-break. He played good points at the end and was able to take it."
Federer has yet to lose serve during the tournament, saving the only break point he has faced against Nadal. He was granted a walkover through the quarterfinals, when Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Friday due to illness, and had spent just three hours and 33 minutes on court coming into the semifinals, compared to Sock’s eight hours and 32 minutes.
Sock saved four match points in a third-round victory over Grigor Dimitrov and was two points from defeat in a tense fourth-round round battle with Malek Jaziri. He advanced to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal by claiming his first Top 5 win over Kei Nishikori in another three-set contest on Friday.
"It was my first semi of a Masters. I played some good tennis this week. Played some good tennis all year. I have a clear picture of what I want to do when I go out on court.
"I'm going to go out and play on my terms, win or lose. If I win, it's amazing. If I lose, I'm okay with going out and playing how I want to play."
The 35-year-old Federer has returned to the tour in remarkable fashion in 2017, having missed the second half of last season due to injury. He beat Wawrinka and Nadal in back-to-back five-set contests to win his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open and has stormed through to the final in Indian Wells without dropping a set. The only blemish on his 2017 record was a second-round loss to World No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the Dubai second round two weeks ago.