Image Credit: Carine06 from UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
A week full of upsets saw the new world number four Dominic Thiem stun Roger Federer.
The Austrian fought back from a set down to win Indian Wells, the first Masters title of the year.
Many would consider it a surprise title for the 25-year-old after a relatively quiet start to 2019. Last year’s French Open finalist had lost in the second round of the Australian Open, and has only managed two wins since.
But this week was drastically different, with him defeating the five-time Indian Wells champion for the third time of his career. Thiem now boasts an impressive 3-2 head-to-head record over him.
Despite this however, Thiem had never even won a set against Federer on a hard court until Sunday night.
The final got off to the worst possible start for Thiem, after the Austrian was broken in his very first service game.
Despite an attempted first set comeback when he broke the Swiss’ serve at 3-4, the maestro Federer broke again instantly and went on to take the first set 6-3.
Thiem had lost the set in just 18 minutes, hence why many thought this match was done.
Federer started the second set the brighter as well, as he held his serve to love and found two break point opportunities. The young man from Wiener Neustadt stood firm, however, and managed to cling on to serve.
This was a turning point in the match. Thiem used the confidence gained in the last game to break the former world number one’s serve in the next game, and go on to only lose three more points on his serve and take the second set 6-3.
The third set saw both men poised at deadlock. Two players of very different ages and career achievements, but very little to set them apart. No break point changes were seen until Federer led 4-3 and found himself with a another opportunity.
Thiem, however, took control of the rally early with a powerful serve out wide. He was able to keep control of the point until Federer sent a backhand into the net.
After a nasty tumble and a cut elbow at 4-4, Thiem was able to play on in style and at 5-5 sent a rippling forehand past Federer to break serve and find himself serving for the set.
And with no real challenge Thiem won the game and fell to the floor in disbelief.
“It’s a pleasure to compete against Roger in this great final. I lost my last two Masters 1000 finals, but I won this one and it feels as nice as a Grand Slam,” said the champion afterwards.
Other wins saw him overcome Milos Raonic and Ivo Karlovic, whilst only losing four games to beat Gilles Simon.
Now it will be about consistency, which Thiem has struggled with in the past. He will now hope to back up this impressive week up in Miami.
This final result was not the most shocking of the week, however.
World number one Novak Djokovic was defeated in straight sets by world number 42 Philipp Kohlschreiber. The 35-year-old veteran last beat Djokovic in 2009 and only dropped serve once to stun the Australian Open champion 6-4 6-4.
“It’s a very special win today. I had a great strategy to play against him, so everything came together,” said the German, after what could be considered the win of his career.
When asked about the defeat, Djokovic replied: “It just happens, one of those days. You just have to deal with it, move on, turn the next page.”
Unfortunately for Kohlschreiber, joy was short lived as he went on to get wiped off the court 6-0 6-2 against Frenchman Gael Monfils. Monfils, however, subsequently withdrew from the draw due to injury ahead of his quarter-final tie with Thiem.
Britain’s Kyle Edmund recorded two solid straight sets victories over Chilean Nicolas Jarry and Romanian Radu Albot, before losing 6-1 6-4 to Federer in the fourth round.
This week sees the first rounds of the Miami Masters tournament, which will conclude during next week.
Whilst Thiem will hope to continue this impressive run, Djokovic will be eager to return to form and win his seventh title there.
Other names to look out for will be world number three Alexander Zverev, Indian Wells runner up Federer, as well as last year’s surprise champion John Isner.
Rafael Nadal had to withdraw from his semi-final this week against Federer injured, and has consequently pulled out of Miami.
The Spaniard will hope he can avoid another long-term injury and return to his much beloved French Open later this Spring.
Written by Michael Gillett (@MichaelBGJourno)