Roger Federer equalled Rafael Nadal’s record of 19 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles after defeating American John Isner 7-6(7), 6-3 on Sunday in Indian Wells. He became the first player to claim four BNP Paribas Open titles, adding to the three straight he won from 2004-06.
“When it all pays off after a bit of a scare early on in the week and you get the title and the emotions are going, it’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. “I remember the days when I won three years in a row here, and I enjoyed myself over here.
“It’s been a long time since I have been this successful here, even though I have had some really good matches here in the past, but it’s nice taking it all the way and getting victories. I was just really happy and not relieved because I was just extremely proud of my performance this week.”
Federer was the first to come under pressure in the final, needing to fight off two break points early on. After waiting out a 12-minute rain delay following the fifth game, both players easily held until Federer earned his first set point on Isner’s serve at 6-5. Isner held to force a tie-break, and fought off two more set points at 6-5 and 7-6 before he put a volley into the net on Federer’s fourth opportunity.
The Swiss stepped up his play an extra notch in the final set. He lost just one point on serve and won the final four games to close the door on the 6’9” Isner after one hour and 21 minutes.
The title was Federer’s third straight on the ATP World Tour, following his triumphs at the ATP World Tour 500 tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai, and extended his winning streak to 15 straight matches. Since a loss in the US Open semi-finals, Federer has won 39 of his past 41 matches. He avenged his two losses – to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals and to Isner in Davis Cup action – this weekend.
Federer had admitted he was not completely healthy at the start of the week, and needed to overcome Milos Raonic and Thomaz Bellucci in three-set matches before decisively defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.
“I played with an attitude maybe of, well, I can only win here,” he said. “I don’t favor myself because I have not felt great. It would be a surprise to come through. That’s how it feels now. I was able to come through, and so convincingly at the end is amazing. I’ve really played amazing these last three matches in particular. I couldn’t be more happy. They were really great wins.”
Isner had reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final by outlasting World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. The victory guaranteed that the 26-year-old North Carolina native would break into the Top 10 for the first time on Monday.
“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “The whole week was a lot of fun. Felt like right from the get go I was going to have a good week, but I didn’t want to overthink it. I definitely took it one match at a time. I certainly played well all week, and obviously today it did not go my way.
“I don’t really feel like necessarily I played my best, but that’s what Roger does. If I have any shot to beat him I’m gonna have to play my best. That wasn’t the case today. He was too strong. All the credit goes to him.”