Indian Wells, California: Roger Federer came out playing like his legendary self. Dominic Thiem needed a set to adjust to what he was seeing across the net.
Thiem went on to beat Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, denying Federer a record sixth title in the desert.
“It just feels unreal what happened,” Thiem said. “He’s such a legend.”
Thiem trailed 4-3 and 5-4 in the third set before breaking Federer with a forehand winner to go up 6-5. Thiem served out the two-hour match that ended with yet another error from Federer, a forehand dumped into the net.
Federer was in the final for the third straight year and lost for the second year in a row. He was beaten in a third-set tiebreaker by Juan Martin del Potro last year. Federer won his 100th career title in Dubai recently.
Thiem had lost in his previous two ATP Masters 1000 finals. But the 25-year-old Austrian’s solid serve held up against Federer as it had throughout the tournament.
Thiem was broken just four times out of 61 service games in the tournament. He didn’t lose serve during his semi-final win over Milos Raonic, facing only one break point in that match.
Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu upset Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the women’s title. Thiem and Andreescu earned $1.3 million each.
Federer and Thiem had split their four previous meetings, but Federer had won both of their hard-court matches without dropping a set.
He cruised through the first set in 36 minutes while getting broken for just the second time during his run to his ninth appearance in the final. But Federer broke back in the next game and served out the set.
“The way he was playing the first set was unreal,” Thiem said. “I had to get used to it.”
Federer advanced to the final after rival Rafael Nadal withdrew before their semi-final match because of knee pain. Thiem also benefited from a walkover, reaching the semis when Gael Monfils withdrew with an Achilles injury.
Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, became the first wild-card winner and second-youngest to claim the title in tournament history.
“The fricking champion of Indian Wells,” Andreescu said. “It’s crazy.”
She overcame nerves, fatigue, arm and leg issues in the final set to earn the first title of her fledgling career.
Andreescu won on her fourth match point when Kerber netted a backhand. She broke Kerber three times in the third set, rallying from a 3-2 deficit to take four of the final five games.