Tennis

Thiem fends off Federer to clinch first Masters 1000 title

Dominic Thiem denied Roger Federer a record sixth Indian Wells title, beating the Swiss great 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to claim his first ATP Masters 1000 crown yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Austrian, 25, ranked eighth in the world, had fallen in two earlier 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 these 10 days," Thiem said. "I came from a really bad form in all categories, and now I'm the champion of Indian Wells."

Thiem is the first Austrian to win a Masters 1000 title since Thomas Muster at Miami in 1997. He earned the crucial break in the 11th game of the final set, connecting on two sharply angled passing winners off Federer's 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 was under attack early, saving three break-points before succumbing on a fourth in the second game as Federer raced to a 3-0 lead.

Federer led 4-1 before Thiem clawed a break back, but the 37-year-old Swiss responded with another hard-won break for a 5-3 lead and captured the set with a service winner.

Coming into the contest, Federer had won 20 straight finals when claiming the opening set.

But Thiem was not about to go quietly, saving break-points for a 2-1 lead in the second and breaking for a 3-1 lead as the Swiss suddenly couldn't put a first serve in.

Thiem sealed the match after two hours and two minutes when Federer's backhand found the net and will return to a career-high ranking of fourth in the world, bumping Federer down to fifth.

Federer said it wasn't a defeat that would fester. "I had my chances. I was in the points," he said. "That's why I'm not too disappointed." - AFP

Tennis