After capturing the first set 6-3 on Sunday, it looked like fan-favorite, and 5-time Indian Wells title holder, Roger Federer would cruise to his 101st ATP title. Then Dominic Thiem came roaring back. The 25 year-old Austrian returned the favor by capturing the second set 6-3, and then completed the upset with a 7-5 final set. The comeback marked Thiem’s first Masters 1000 Title, and propelled him back to his previous high of ATP World #4.
Now without adding to the rumor mill too much, here are some of our key takeaways from the 2019 BNP Paribas Open Final:
Thiem Returns to Form on Hard Courts
A big knock on Dominic Thiem has been his inconsistency on hard courts. He has always excelled on clay, but never looked quite as comfortable away from it. After his win at Indian Wells, he even said, “It’s amazing that I did my first big title here on a different surface than clay. I turned a pretty bad start to the season to a very good one.” Agreed. Just two short months ago, Thiem was knocked out of the Australian Open in the second round. This is really the best we’ve seen him perform since he lost to Nadal last fall in the quarter-finals of the US Open. The win will surely give Thiem some momentum heading into the clay season.
Federer on the Decline?
Simply put…no. Despite the loss, Federer is still playing outstanding tennis. He just captured his 100th career ATP title after winning in Dubai, and has won 12 of 14 matches so far this year. Fans and analysts alike have tried to put a date on Federer’s decline for years, but the all-time great has always had more in the tank. With Federer being 37 years of age, the doubters will only grow louder, but it seems he will be happy to continue proving them wrong. He’s still in good spirits and health, and even said after the match, “I’m not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet…[I] just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered. That’s how it goes. Sure, it’s frustrating and disappointing and sad to some extent. But look, I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly.” As of now, Federer has committed to playing this clay season.
Young Stars are Rising
On the men’s side of tennis, we have heard the names Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray for years. Every once in a while, it seems like a young star might break through, but none have truly been able to take over the field. That still has not happened, but we’re seeing some cracks in the foundation, however small they may be. Stefanos Tsitsipas has made quite a bit of noise as of late, and even defeated Federer at this year’s Australian Open. We’ve also seen Alexander Zverev take down some big names, and Thiem has been a formidable contender on clay, even against the greatest to ever do it. With that said, we still have not seen a newcomer on the men’s side consistently contend for Grand Slams. While that’s a big step to take, we may be inching closer.
About the Author: Chris Worman
Weight: 190 lbs