Roger Federer continued his sizzling form on Saturday with a straight sets win over American Jack Sock in the Indian Wells Masters semifinals. The Swiss maestro will play compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Sunday's showpiece.
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, claiming a 6-1 7-6(4) victory over Sock without facing a break point.
He ripped through the first set against the17th seed 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 the last four.
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."
As the Swiss pair prepared for the final, world number two Novak Djokovic announced he had sustained a right elbow injury and was pulling out of this week's Miami Masters, where he is the reigning champion.
The Serb joins top-ranked Andy Murray in withdrawing from the hardcourt event as the latter withdrew on Saturday, also citing a right elbow injury.
It's the latest setback for Djokovic, who has suffered a drop in form since completing a sweep of the grand slam titles at last year's French Open.