(Reuters) – Roger Federer continued his sizzling form on Saturday to set up an all-Swiss final against Stan Wawrinka at the BNP Paribas Open in California.
Federer did not face a break point in his semi-final victory over American Jack Sock 6-1 7-6(4) on the hardcourt at Indian Wells.
Less than two months after claiming the 18th grand slam title of his career at the Australian Open, ninth seed Federer delivered another virtuoso performance.
He ripped through the first set against 17th seed Sock in barely 20 minutes, before the American regrouped to make the second set more competitive.
With both players holding serve, the set went to a tiebreak, where Federer prevailed in front of a sun-baked crowd of 16,000 that included Rod Laver and Bill Gates.
“Overall I played a good match, struggled a bit in the second set but Jack got into it,” 35-year-old Federer said in a courtside interview.
“It was tough in the end. I don’t think I played the best tiebreaker but it was enough to get through and I’m super happy to be in the final.”
Wawrinka was even more dominant in the other semi, demolishing Spanish 21st seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 6-2.
Federer has a 19-3 career record against Wawrinka, and has never lost to his compatriot on hardcourt.
They met most recently at the Australian Open, where Federer prevailed in five sets in a semi-final.
With Federer winning the Australian Open and Wawrinka claiming last September’s U.S. Open, Sunday’s final will bring together the two most recent grand slam champions.
Federer said Wawrinka would present a different type of challenge than Sock.
“Jack tries to really come over the ball and create a lot of topspin whereas Stan blocks his first-serve return usually.
“He’s very steady off the baseline and can play from really deep in the court. I’ve got to play aggressive and play like I’ve been doing all week and hope it’s enough.”
Wawrinka earned his first Indian Wells final in style.
He broke Carreno Busta three times, and never faced a break point himself.
“I mixed a lot of speed and spin,” Wawrinka said. “It’s not always easy here. I was mixing it up, so it was not easy for him to find a solution.”
It was a much easier victory for Wawrinka than his fourth-round match against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who came within two points of an upset earlier in the week.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Gene Cherry)