Andreescu soars after Indian Wells breakthrough

INDIAN WELLS, CA: Dominic Thiem of Austria holds the championship trophy after his men’s singles final victory against Roger Federer of Switzerland on day fourteen of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardenon March 17, 2019 in Indian Wells, California. —AFP

INDIANA WELLS: Dominic Thiem claimed his first Masters 1000 title after coming from a set down to defeat Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-5 and win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in Indian Wells. Momentum swung in Thiem’s favour in the deciding set when he smacked a forehand winner down the line to break Federer and take a 6-5 lead.

The Austrian fell on his back and covered his face with his hands when Federer, who had been bidding for a record sixth Indian Wells title and 101st tournament victory, netted on match point. The 25-year-old Thiem, who rose four places to a career-high world number four yesterday, paid tribute to his opponent.

“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,” he told the 20-times Grand Slam champion during the trophy presentation ceremony.

“I feel like it’s not my right to congratulate you, you have 88 more titles than me, so I’m just hoping you play more and we can have some other big finals,” he said with a laugh. Federer was gracious in defeat after falling in the final in the Southern California desert for a second consecutive year.

“It has been a great week for me even though it didn’t work out today,” he said. “What a great week for Dominic. Wonderful playing at the very end and throughout the week. You deserve it.” Federer raced to an early lead, winning the first three games before wrapping up the first set in the Southern California desert.

But baseline specialist Thiem kept his composure and levelled the match in the second, gaining traction by extending rallies and unleashing a torrent of high-kicking serves to keep Federer off balance. Federer’s own serve lost some of its bite in the crucial game in the third set with the score tied at 5-5.

“The game he broke me I didn’t serve very well, so I think he took advantage of that fact,” said Federer, who was not overly down about the defeat. “I just got my 100 (career title) in Dubai and I had a good week here,” the 37-year-old said.
“Really there is no reason to get down. Plus there is more to look forward to in Miami.” Thiem will also play in Miami, hoping to complete the “Sunshine Double” with a victory there after his Indian Wells win.

Earlier, Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu rocketed up 36 places to a new best of 24th in the WTA rankings a day after her historic triumph at Indian Wells. The 18-year-old Andreescu beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber in Sunday’s final to become the first women’s wildcard to win the Indian Wells title.

Andreescu, with just one Grand Slam main draw victory to date, continued her meteoric rise having been ranked 243rd as recently as last October. Wimbledon champion Kerber moved up four places to fourth as Naomi Osaka stayed top of the pile despite crashing out in the last 16 in a failed title defence.

Simona Halep, who also lost in the fourth round, slipped from second to third as the Romanian was replaced by Petra Kvitova. Belinda Bencic continued her resurgence as she broke back into the top 20 after reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals, a run that included a victory over Osaka.

The 21-year-old Swiss won her first title in four years at Dubai last month after a string of injuries and a slump in form threatened to derail her career. – Agencies