Despite all the withdrawals and only three of the top eight seeds appearing in the quarterfinals, the BNP Paribas Open has ended up with the best possible final: Roger Federer vs Juan Martin del Potro.
The Swiss superstar has been on fire for the majority of the fortnight, but he had to dig extremely deep to overcome the young talent that is Borna Coric. The World #1 reeled off the last four games of the match, and twice recovered from a break down in the decider, to reach his eighth final in the California desert.
The win also meant that Federer opens a season with a 17-0 win record (he achieved a 16-0 start way back in 2006). The great man keeps on breaking his own records–which is unbelievable given, that he is thirty-six years old. Federer has also won a staggering forty out of forty-four sets he has played so far this season as he heads into the first Masters final of the year.
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro has been arguably the second best player of 2018 (behind his next foe). The Argentine came into Indian Wells fresh off of a dazzling week in Acapulco where he picked up the title with minimal trouble. Del Potro’s only other BNP Paribas Open final appearance came in 2013 and he would love to claim a maiden Masters title of his illustrious career.
The Argentine produced a blistering performance to thrash Milos Raonic for the loss of only five games. His new and improved backhand combined beautifully with his famously ferocious weapon of a forehand to destroy a former world #3 and Grand Slam finalist. It is safe to say that Del Potro is on fire right now.
Roger Federer holds a substantial 18-6 head-to-head record over Del Potro but do not be fooled by the numbers. Six out of the world #1’s past seven wins over Del Potro have required a final set, which shows us that the Argentine has been able to push the Swiss to the limit on a regular basis.
Each of the Tower of Tandil’s six victories over Federer have taken place on hard courts as the Swiss leads that series 13-6. The popular pair met on four occasions last season and these matches will hold the most relevance because they are still very recent. Federer edged their 2017 rivalry 3-1 but Del Potro won their most important match: the quarterfinals of the US Open.
The World #1 was also victorious in their only ever meeting in Indian Wells, although that was six years ago. It is also worth noting that the Argentine holds a 3-2 head-to-head record in finals over Federer. Does Del Potro have the edge in the big matches?
Who Will Win?
Since Federer took that famous six month break away from the game he has won 69 out of his 74 matches. Over that period of time it has been Del Potro who has caused him the most trouble. The Argentine possess a massive game and the Swiss will need to play his very best to get his hands on the trophy.
I believe Federer will produce his sensational best in the final, as he usually does. I also think that Del Potro will bring a high level to create an awesome climax to a strange tournament. However, the Swiss is on a different level to the rest of the field and he will capture a sixth Indian Wells title of his outstanding career.
Federer in two tight sets.