Dominic Thiem is finally a Masters 1000 champion, taking home the Indian Wells title with a three set victory over Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-5. Many would have predicted his first title at this level to come on the clay but an outstanding fortnight means he has broken his duck on the slow hard courts in California. The Austrian also moves back to No.4 in the rankings, matching his previous career high.
Federer came into the final hoping to seal a sixth title at Indian Wells, something that would have been a tournament record. It was a great start for him, breaking in his first return game. Thiem would break back later on but fail to hold serve the following game, giving it up after a killer service return from the Swiss.
Federer was wasteful on return throughout and it would eventually comeback to haunt him. He had two chances to break at 1-1 in the second set, immediately getting punished for his inability to convert them. Thiem broke at his first opportunity to go 3-1 up before following it with three strong holds to send the match into a decider.
Both players had just one break chance in the decider. The first came for Federer, who hit one of his many backhand errors into the net after a net charge from Thiem. That backhand would continue let him down, with 18 unforced errors coming off that side. Thiem showed no mistake on his break point opportunity, putting Federer on the backfoot with a strong return. He eventually put away the forehand winner, allowing him to serve for the match.
“I’m not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet,” Federer said. “Just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered. That’s how it goes. Sure, it’s frustrating and disappointing and sad to some extent. But look, I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly.”
“I was in the zone the whole match,” a delighted Thiem commented. “I had to get used to Roger’s game. In the first set he was playing amazing. It was completely different from my opponents before him. I was struggling to work my way into the match. I had to fight to save those break points early in the second set. It was a very good match until the end and I had to fight to serve it out.”