Third times the charm as Thiem claims maiden Masters 1000
Dominic Thiem claimed the biggest title of his career on Sunday as he came from a set down to beat former world number one Roger Federer and claim Indian Wells glory. Alex Grant reports.
The Austrian was forced to dig deep against his legendary opponent but in the end prevailed 3-6 6-3 7-5 after just over two hours of battle in the Californian desert.
It was Federer, in search of a record sixth Indian Wells crown, who started the better though as he came out swinging freely and when he dually wrapped up the first set with just 36 minutes on the clock it was looking like another straightforward day at the office for the Swiss Maestro.
Thiem, making his third appearance in the final of a Masters series, was not going away, however, and was soon dictating the match at his own pace. Stepping up further inside the court to take the ball earlier on the rise the Austrian was soon firing rockets off both his forehand and backhand wings. And upon breaking Federer to lead 3-1 in the second set he held strong to serve the set out. Taking it 6-3. Reversing the first set score.
As the third set got underway there was little to separate these prized fighters with the first seven games of the deciding set going the way of the server with not a single break point opportunity created by either man.
This was to soon change as, when leading 4-3, Federer set himself up with his 11th break point opportunity of the match.
But as quickly as it was created it was gone as some colossal hitting from the racket of Thiem wrestled back control of the game and he soon levelled the match once more at 4-4.
The final continued to roll with serve but after successfully serving to stay in the match at 4-5. It was Thiem who stepped up his bid to make history and sealed the all-important break with a forehand winner down the line. Leaving him to serve out for his first ATP Masters 1000 title having fallen short twice before on the clay in Madrid (2017 l. Nadal and 2018 l. Zverev).
The occasion was not to get to Thiem, however, as the 25-year-old served out the match sealing a memorable victory falling to the ground in celebration as Federer saw one last forehand land in the net.
Victory takes Thiem back to a career high fourth in the world rankings and both men will now pack up and travel over to Miami ready for the year’s second Masters event. Where Dominic Thiem will surely now be dreaming of claiming a second straight Masters crown and with it the so named ‘Sunshine double’ of winning both Indian Wells and Miami back to back. A feat rarely achieved.