Dominic Thiem spoiled Roger Federer’s party which the Swiss, the favourite to collect his sixth Indian Wells Masters title, was no doubt contemplating.
It feels just unreal what happened in this 10 days, I came from a really bad form in all categories, and now I'm the champion of Indian Wells. Dominic Thiem
Thiem the seventh seed, took out the fourth seeded Federer 3-6 6-3 7-5 for his first Masters title having failed in two previous finals at this level, and improves his personal record against the great Swiss Maestro to three wins in five meetings.
“It feels just unreal what happened in this 10 days,” Thiem said. “I came from a really bad form in all categories, and now I’m the champion of Indian Wells.
“It feels not real at all,” the 25-year-old added as he became the first Austrian to win a Masters 1000 title since Thomas Muster at Miami in 1997.
Thiem earned the crucial break in the 11th game of the final set when he hit two consecutive well angled winners off of two Federer drop shots, to give himself a break point which he converted with a stinging forehand winner.
“He stayed cool under pressure there,” Federer recalled. “When he got up to the ball, stayed calm, made the shot.”
Thiem then sealed the match after two hours and two minutes when Federer’s backhand found the net and will now return to a career-high ranking of fourth in the world, pushing Federer down to fifth.
“It’s tough against Roger, Rafa (Nadal), Novak (Djokovic),” Thiem said on receiving his trophy. “Because you have to beat not only the player but somehow also the great aura they all have, all these titles they have won.
“So you have to play somehow double-good to beat them.”
Thiem was put on the defensive right from the start, saving three break points before succumbing on a fourth in the second game as Federer jumped into a 3-0 lead.
The favourite led 4-1 before Thiem clawed a break back, but Federer responded with another hard-won break for a 5-3 lead and captured the set with a service winner.
But Thiem was not about to go quietly, saving break points for 2-1 in the second and breaking for a 3-1 lead as the Swiss’s serve suddenly started to falter.
“I think that was a really important five-minutes in the match,” Federer said. “It was crucial.”
A hold to love put Thiem 4-1 up and on the way to forcing the third set which the Austrian went on to claim.
Federer was philosophical at losing. “I had my chances. I was in the points,” he said. “That’s why I’m not too disappointed. I just came up against somebody who was on the day a bit better when it really mattered.”
It was the second year in a row that Federer lost the Indian Wells final. Last year it was Juan Martin del Potro who proved to be the better player on the day.