Roger Federer is the overwhelming favourite to take the Indian Wells title on Sunday afternoon. He takes on Dominic Thiem, seeking to become champion for the sixth time. That would take him one above Novak Djokovic, who also came into the tournament with five titles. Thiem is looking for his first Masters 1000 title, having lost in the final of Madrid in both of the last two years.
After a walkover gave him his semi final place, Thiem had to put in a huge effort to fight off Milos Raonic in three sets. There would be just one break in the 7-6 6-7 6-4 win, which the Austrian picked up to go 3-2 ahead in the decider. He faced one break point in the match, saving it in the final game before converting on his second match point. It was a great win for the Austrian, who had lost in straight sets in the two previous meetings with the Canadian. “I played really well the whole match, basically. I didn’t make a lot of unforced errors. And I had a very good first-serve percentage. That was great.” a delighted Thiem said afterwards.
The long-awaited Federer-Nadal 39 did not happen with Nadal withdrawing as many might have feared. Federer will still be happy with a day off but he hasn’t had to exert too much in his four matches to get to the final, playing just over four and a half hours. He is back to No.4 in the live rankings but must win this one to ensure that he stays there, with Thiem jumping above him if he wins.
“I think he’s playing very well. I think he’s using the kick serve very effectively. The spins, they really bounce up high here in the desert air. I think he’s one of the fittest guys out there and can hit the ball the hardest. I think this surface suits him well for that,” Federer said on the threat of Thiem. “I really hope I can play aggressive tennis against him. But I like his style. He uses the spins and the variations very effectively and for that I think we’ll see some interesting points tomorrow.”
While Federer and Thiem have split the four matches they have played, Federer does lead the head to head 1-0 on outdoor hard. “It’s always something special to play Roger and also something special to compete in Masters 1000 finals. It’s only my third one. I have pretty bad stats in the finals, so I know it’s going to be very tough, but at the same time, I will give everything to hopefully win my first title.” said Thiem.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets