INDIAN WELLS. — Roger Federer said he has “totally exceeded his expectations” after winning the BNP Paribas Open tennis final with a straight-sets victory over Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka on Sunday. The 35-year-old defeated his 31-year-old opponent 6-4, 7-5 to claim a career 90th singles title and a fifth at Indian Wells. This is a remarkable turnaround for the 18-time Grand Slam winner, who returned from a six-month injury layoff to win January’s Australian Open and in winning Sunday’s final the Swiss never dropped a set all tournament and now climbs four places in the ATP rankings to sixth spot.
He also becomes the tournament’s oldest winner after passing Jimmy Connors, who was 31 when he won in 1984.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Federer said he had totally exceeded expectations and was hoping to be ranked eighth by the time Wimbledon was due to start on July 3.
“I have totally exceeded my expectations. My goal was to be top eight by Wimbledon. This is just a dream start,” Federer told Sky Sports.
“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.
“I was very sad when I couldn’t come here last year so just being here is a beautiful feeling.
“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.”
With Sunday’s triumph in the all-Swiss final, Federer joined Novak Djokovic as the only men to win five Indian Wells titles, adding to those he won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.
At 35, Federer is the oldest ATP player to win one of the elite Masters titles, supplanting Andre Agassi, who was 34 when he won in Cincinnati in 2004.
“It’s been just a fairytale week once again,” said Federer, who missed Indian Wells last year because of injury.
“I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did.
“I couldn’t be more happy. It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Last year I didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”
The speedy progress means 10th-ranked Federer will have to reassess his 2017 goals. Prior to the Australian Open his aim was to get his ranking to as high as eighth by the time Wimbledon was over.
“The goals are clearly changing after this dream start,” Federer said. — AFP.