Roger Federer threw away a first set lead to lose the Indian Wells men's title to Dominic Thiem, but said after that he lost to the better man

  • Roger Federer threw away a first set lead to lose the Indian Wells Masters final to Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
  • Thiem produced a nerveless comeback to win the second and third sets thanks to pin-point accuracy, point-clinching backhands, and incredible crosscourt forehands.
  • The Austrian won 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to prove this was Thiem’s time, who later said he had to “fight it out” to secure the win.
  • Federer, meanwhile, said the 25-year-old was simply better when it mattered most.

Roger Federer threw away a first set lead to lose the BNP Paribas Open title to Dominic Thiem, a man he later admitted was simply better on the day.

Federer enjoyed a remarkable start at the Indian Wells Masters final on Sunday, coasting to an early 3-0 lead in the first set after just 12 minutes. It wasn’t too long before he wrapped up the first set, exhibiting excellent net play and duping Thiem with drop shots, too.

But the match was not destined to go Federer’s way as Thiem kept his cool in the searing Californian heat and sealed an incredible comeback to claim the second and third sets.

Momentum swung Thiem’s way when the Austrian stormed into a commanding 4-1 second set lead, winning 11 points out of a possible 12 with impeccable passing shots.

Thiem’s 6-3 second set win forced a deciding set, where he rose to one of the biggest occasions of his career with point-clinching backhands. Thiem also kept his nerve in the build-up to the set’s only break point, when critical crosscourt forehands outfoxed Federer’s drop shots. A forehand won Thiem the game to go 6-5 ahead meaning he only had to hold his serve to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, which he did.

Roger Federer and Dominic ThiemPhoto by Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesDominic Thiem and Federer.

Thiem was better ‘when it really mattered’

It was Thiem’s first Masters 1000 title and his first ever hardcourt win over Federer, which is perhaps why he described the victory as “unreal” according to the ATP. “It’s a pleasure to compete against Roger in this great final. I lost my last two Masters 1000 finals, but I won this one and it feels as nice as a Grand Slam.”

He added: “I had to get used to Roger’s game. In the first set, he was playing amazing. It was completely different from my opponents before him. I was struggling to work my way into the match. It was a very good match until the end and I had to fight to serve it out.”

Federer, meanwhile, said he was “not too disappointed” to have lost to Thiem. He said he “just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered. That’s how it goes.”

Federer said he did not play bad, he had his chances, but the main deciding point, “the return he hits on the line at 5-all [in the third set]” went to Thiem, as he “couldn’t produce” the winner himself.

As tournament winner, Thiem will get to cash a $US1.35 million paycheck and now rises to world number four in the ATP rankings because of a 1,000 point Masters point bonus. Federer, meanwhile, banked $US686,000 as the Indian Wells runner-up.

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