Thiem tops Federer to win Indian Wells title

Dominic Theim

Many look back on their careers and wonder what might have been, but Andre Labelle - Andreescu's coach at Tennis Canada for nearly four years - says that was never likely to be the case with the new Indian Wells champion.

Federer advanced to the final after rival Rafael Nadal withdrew before their semifinal match because of knee pain.

"It has been a great week for me even though it didn't work out today", he said.

Both players dug deep to take the title fight down to the wire, with Thiem targeting the biggest crown of his career and Federer hoping to clinch his 101st title.

Thiem, who is seeking his first title in one of the ATP's prestigious Masters 1000 events, was rock-solid in a 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 victory over 14th-ranked Canadian Milos Raonic. "Because you have to beat not only the player but somehow also the great aura they all have, all these titles they have won". Federer sealed the first set with a service victor after Thiem handed the set to the Swiss on the back of break points.

Nadal choked up discussing his withdrawal last fall, and he appeared near tears on Saturday.

Andreescu became the first wildcard to be crowned Indian Wells Open champion with a sensational defeat of Angelique Kerber on Sunday.

Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Milos Raonic of Canada during their men's singles semifinal at the Indian Wells 2019
Dominic Thiem of Austria in action against Milos Raonic of Canada during their men’s singles semifinal at the Indian Wells 2019

Nadal leads their rivalry 23-15, but Federer has won five straight, most recently in the final of the Shanghai Masters in 2017. "I feel fortunate for all the things I've done in my life and the world of tennis". However, Nadal soon texted him it wasn't going to happen.

Thiem told Federer, "It is such a pleasure to compete with you, to learn so much from you, and to play with one of the biggest legends of all time".

Nadal's right knee flared up while he was taking on Karen Khachanov in Friday's quarterfinals.

"I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet", Federer said. "When you want to try maybe just to play more safe then he suddenly steps in and he counterattacks".

He admitted that he sometimes is sad because he feels at a disadvantage against his opponents due to his continued knee issues that force him to limit his practice and playing time.

He 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.

Nadal has defeated Federer in nine of 12 Grand Slam matchups.

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