Federer to Face Thiem in Indian Wells Final
Once upon a time in tennis, 25 year old Dominic Thiem would have won a slam, Roland Garros, by his current age and been in the top 2 if not having had a stint at the pinnacle of his sport.
Still, even in this age of 36 year old No.1s, no active slam champs under 30, and the same players winning slams as ten years back, when the seventh seeded Austrian was playing in the juniors, Thiem has not done that badly- a slam runner up plate, 2 ATP 1000 finals, and 7 titles to his name.
This most recent achievement, reaching the BNP Paribas Open final, comes as something of a surprise. Hard courts are not Thiem’s favorite hunting ground, but he’s fresh this year, having only won just 3 matches all season coming in to the tournament- he’s usually in the mid teens by now- and he’s had a nice draw with Jordan Thompson, Gilles Simon, Ivo Karlovic, Gael Monfils (W/O) and Milos Raonic. Some big names, and certainly not chopped liver, but none in their prime and one of them unable to even make the court.
Raonic was the toughest of the lot and the former three time semi-finalist so nearly made it a nail biter of a third set, but the Canadian’s still a touch rusty match play wise and a real blooper on break point at 5-4 down when the Canadian had the open court but sent the backhand pickup long meant Thiem scraped through 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 to reach his first ATP 1000 final.
At least Thiem’s semi-final opponent turned up and gave him a match before the final. Federer’s opponent Rafa Nadal had to withdraw with that pesky knee injury that has plagued him his entire career it seems and most savagely so the last couple of seasons putting an end to many a run at a hard court tournament.
Federer was the favorite to take that match and would have gotten a real boost from another Nadal victory- he’s won the last five and cut the deficit to 15-23. The day off might help him- he’s 36 and played a lot of tennis recently so his body won’t likely complain- or it could hurt him- being 36 means he’s prone to some off days and it might have been nice to have that rhythm the Nadal match would have given him.
Federer is the favorite in this match. The head to head is 2-2, but Federer leads on hard 2-0, both convincing wins, and is the far superior hard court player. That fact should see him wrap his sixth Indian Wells title up in straights, but not without a fight from a player who in another tennis lifetime might have been the hunted but in this one is going to enjoy being the hunter and what better a prairie than the tennis gardens of Indian Wells and what greater a target than Roger Federer.
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