Indian Wells 2019: Thiem defeats Federer in the final

Arnold Nichols
March 23, 2019

Dominic Thiem claimed his first Masters 1000 title after coming from a set down to defeat Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-5 and win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in Indian Wells.

Federer, fresh off a remarkable 100th career title in Dubai, remains tied with Novak Djokovic for the most Indian Wells victories with five.

Thiem earned the crucial break in the 11th game of the final set, connecting on two sharply angled passing winners off of Federer drop shots to give himself a break point which he converted with a stinging forehand victor.

It was no surprise that Roger Federer, the poster-boy for nearly two decades for the unique style of the one-handed backhand, referenced that feature of his final opponent in Indian Wells.

By that stage, it wasn't a surprise because Thiem had shown poise in the second set by fending off two break points and holding serve for a 2-1 lead.

Momentum swung in Thiem's favor when he broke Federer at a crucial juncture in the deciding set to take a 6-5 lead.

With a head-to-head record of two wins apiece going into this final, there was little to separate them in the decider.

Thiem was broken just four times out of 61 service games in the tournament.

But baseline specialist Thiem kept his composure and levelled the match in the second, gaining traction by extending rallies and unleashing a torrent of high-kicking serves to keep Federer off balance. Once he held, he then began to get his serve and his game in full gear.

"It is such a pleasure to compete with you, to learn so much from you, and to play with one of the biggest legends of all time", Thiem said before picking up the trophy.

"That's why I'm not too disappointed", Federer said.

Federer cruised through the first set in 36 minutes, breaking Thiem twice. "I$3 just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered".

"I feel like it's not my right to congratulate you, you have 88 more titles than me, so I'm just hoping you play more and we can have some other big finals", he said with a laugh. "I didn't feel like I played bad, either".

"It sure is frustrating and disappointing and sad, to some extent, but I've been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly". Two love holds and he turned his attention to Federer's serve, pummelled his forehand to the Swiss backhand to open the court, and reeled off points for the break. "I was in the points".

Having reached his first Masters final in 2017 and his first Grand Slam final in 2018 only to be denied by Nadal, 2019 has now provided the 25-year-old with the biggest title of his career and the next staging post in his career courtesy of a win over perhaps the greatest the game has seen - quite a statement.

"I feel like I'm actually playing good tennis".

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