The 25-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem arrived at Indian Wells with just seven matches in 2019, struggling with a form and virus that halted his progression in the opening two months of the new season. That has all changed here at Indian Wells, though, with Thiem beating the five-time champion Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3 7-5 in two hours and two minutes to lift his maiden Masters 1000 crown and the 12th ATP title overall!
Thus, Thiem has become only the seventh different Indian Wells champion since 2002 and also the 67th different Masters 1000 winner since the series was established in 1990. The Austrian made the difference with the second serve although he still had to dig deep to cross the finish line first, repelling nine out of 11 break points and stealing Roger's serve three times to grab the third win over the Swiss in five matches.
Dominic knew he had to be aggressive to stand a chance against the opponent who likes to control the pace and he did that, hitting 24 winners and 25 unforced errors while Federer counted to 23 winners and 32 mistakes, spraying the most of those from his backhand wing.
Thiem had more service winners and forged the advantage in both the shortest rallies up to four strokes and in those mid-range ones to cement the triumph and crack the top-4 for the first time in a career on Monday. The Swiss was off to a great start, breaking Thiem in game two after a backhand error from the Austrian and settling into a nice rhythm on serve until game seven when Dominic broke back to bring the result back on serve.
Roger stayed focused, though, keeping the pressure on the younger opponent in the very next game to convert the fourth break point with a return winner that pushed him ahead for the second time, closing the opener with a service winner at 5-3 after 36 minutes.
After facing eight break points in the opening set, Thiem found the way to be more productive behind the initial shot in the second, fending off both break points he faced in the third game and waiting for a chance on the return patiently.
It came in the very next game when Federer netted an easy forehand, blasting four winners on serve to gain a 4-1 lead and clinching the set in a mighty impressive way after landing four more direct points in game nine for a 6-3.
The deciding set saw seven easy holds on both sides before Dominic had to play against a break point that could have pushed Roger 5-3 up, saving it with a forced error from his opponent and bringing the game home with a service winner for 4-4.
With the momentum on his side, Thiem broke Federer in the 11th game thanks to a forehand crosscourt winner and was a game away from the biggest title of his career against one of the toughest possible opponents he could play against!
A loose forehand from Roger gave Thiem a hold at 15 in that 12th game and the first Masters 1000 crown for the 25-year-old who has finally added something big to his tally outside the beloved clay.