INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) – Dominic Thiem denied Roger Federer a record sixth Indian Wells title, beating the Swiss great, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, on Sunday to claim his first ATP Masters 1000 crown.
The 25-year-old Austrian, ranked eighth in the world, had fallen in two prior Masters finals, both in Madrid.
But he rallied for a third career win over Federer in five meetings, his first over the Swiss on hard courts.
“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,’’ added Thiem, 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, connecting on two sharply angled passing winners off of Federer drop shots to give himself a break point which he converted with a stinging forehand winner.
“He stayed cool under pressure there,” Federer said. “When he got up to the ball, stayed calm, made the shot.”
Thiem 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, bumping Federer down to fifth.
It was the second year in a row that Federer was denied in the Indian Wells final. In 2018 he missed out on three championship points as he fell to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in the title match.
Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu became the first wild card to win the WTA title at Indian Wells on Sunday with a gritty 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber.
Andreescu, 18, shook off fatigue to topple the eighth-ranked German, who hasn’t won a title since she beat Serena Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final for her third Grand Slam crown.
Ranked 60th coming into the tournament, Andreescu will rise to 24th in the world with her first WTA title.
Federer, fresh off a remarkable 100th career title in Dubai, remains tied with Novak Djokovic for the most Indian Wells victories with five.
Thiem claimed his 12th career title — as he noted at the trophy ceremony when he acknowledged Federer.