He raced into position to hit his serves, bouncing the ball in rapid-fire fashion -- and then played the points even faster.
Roger Federer, moving with startling speed from side to side, baseline to net, stunned Stan Wawrinka on Sunday with an up-tempo game in the California desert. The score in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells was a forceful 6-4, 7-5, and it was, even with the benefit of a few minutes to contemplate, an astonishing result.
Did we mention that Federer, the all-time Grand Slam champion, is well into his 36th year?
Federer beat longtime rival Rafael Nadal two rounds ago in 68 minutes and needed only 80 minutes to handle Wawrinka.
"What can I say?" Federer said. "It's been a fairytale week. I'm still on the comeback. I hope my body allows me to continue playing."
Federer won his fifth title at Indian Wells, tying him with Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead, his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and 90th overall title.
Perhaps more important is this context: At 35 years, 7 months, Federer is the oldest to win a Masters title, surpassing Andre Agassi (34 years, 3 months) and this tournament, moving past Jimmy Connors, who was the Indian Wells champion in 1984 at the age of 31 years, 5 months. This was Federer's 22nd title after turning 30. For context, Ivan Lendl has the next most with eight. And for what it's worth, John McEnroe had five and Pete Sampras one.
"I would like to congratulate Roger," said Wawrinka, Federer's Swiss Davis Cup teammate, in his emotional on-court speech.
"Anyone who loves tennis loves watching you."
Wawrinka, a three-time major champion, has now lost to Federer 20 times -- in the 23 matches they've played. It's a ridiculous 15-0 on hard courts.
Let's rewind to January, when the 35-year-old Federer stepped on the court in Melbourne for his first official action in six months. Coming off knee surgery and the longest sabbatical of his professional life, he won the title, defeating Nadal in a riveting Australian Open final.
Fast-forward less than three months later and who would have imagined that Federer would have locked down the season's two first important tournaments. It's almost impossible to overstate the magnitude of what's happening -- because there is no real precedent.
Federer is 13-1 this season and an unblinking 6-0 against top-10 players. The last time he started this fast? Thirteen years ago, when he got out of the blocks 18-0 and went on to finish a year-end No. 1 for the first time.
Minutes after the result, American John Isner tweeted this: "Are we 100 percent sure Fed is from Planet Earth?"
Federer finished as the year-end No. 1 player in 2004. Consider the nine men who joined him in the top 10: No. 2 Andy Roddick, No. 3 Lleyton Hewitt, No. 4. Marat Safin, No. 5 Carlos Moya, No. 6 Tim Henman, No. 7 Guillermo Coria, No. 8 Andre Agassi, No. 9 David Nalbandian and No. 10. Gaston Gaudio.
Six of them were Grand Slam champions -- and all of them are retired.
Federer, is still seemingly at the top of his game. New and, against all odds, improved.
Beyond his extraordinary movement, Federer served impeccably. He won 47 of 48 service games, losing his first and only break point to Wawrinka in the first game of the second set.
It was an eventful near-fortnight for Federer. He navigated his way through the nasty bottom quarter, the Group of Death that featured Djokovic, Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev. Djokovic beat del Potro in the third round but was taken out by Kyrgios in the fourth. Then Kyrgios granted Federer a quarterfinal walkover after a sudden bout of food poisoning.
Coming in, you wondered whether Wawrinka might find a way. He was 3-for-3 in major finals and the last time Federer and Wawrinka met in any final, Wawrinka came away with his first and only Masters title, nearly three years ago on the clay in Monte Carlo.
And now, with No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 2 Djokovic in a curious remission -- they are both sitting out Miami because of injuries -- there appears to be a new/old world order. Make Federer your Wimbledon favorite, and pencil in Rafa at Roland Garros.
Wouldn't that be something?
"To be here again as a champion is an amazing feeling," Federer said. "I can't tell you enough what it means to me."
Trust us, it means more to tennis.