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Roger Federer Lost In The Finals Of The BNP Paribas Open Tennis • Wrap Up

Dominic Thiem (L) of Austria and Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland pose with their trophies during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. Thiem defeated Federer in the men's finals. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO
Dominic Thiem (L) of Austria and Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland pose with their trophies during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. Thiem defeated Federer in the men’s finals. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

 

 

By Alix Ramsay

 

Here’s a thing: in every tournament played so far this year, on both the men’s and women’s tour, each has had a different winner. No one is getting their own way in 2019 and there are champions in waiting lurking around every corner.

 

Roger Federer discovered that to his cost as he was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the final of the BNP Paribas Open 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. It was the first time the Austrian had beaten Federer on a hard court and, more importantly, the first time he had managed to get his hands on a Masters 1000 trophy.

 

Just three weeks into his new coaching partnership with Nicolas Massu, he has done what had looked all but impossible for the super-fit and fanatically hard working world No.8. He was a clay court man at heart and the hard courts were taking some getting used to. But Massu has fixed all of that.

 

“He preferred playing on clay,” Thiem said of his new guide, “but his biggest success came on a fast hard court at the Olympics [in Athens in 2004]. He knows what it means to feel at home on clay, but transfer good results to a hard court. That’s one of the things we expect from the relationship.”

 

For a set, Thiem was overwhelmed as Federer played out of his skin to claim the early lead. But then Thiem started to reel the old master in until at 5-5 in the third set, Federer was fighting tooth and nail to manufacture a chance and Thiem was fighting tooth and nail to stop him. And Thiem got his way in the end.

 

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Dominic Thiem of Austria during the Men's Final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019.  EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Dominic Thiem of Austria during the Men’s Final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong,” Federer said. “The return he hits on the line at 5-5, that’s the one I needed, and I couldn’t produce that. Why is that? You can start looking, digging so deep, and then you end up getting lost, rather than just saying, you know, he played maybe a little bit better when he really had to.

 

“But again, I didn’t feel like I played bad, either. I had my chances. I was in the points. That’s why 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 in my racket. I just came up against somebody who was on the day, you know, a bit better when it really mattered.”

 

He was not too bothered – disappointed, yes; devastated, no – and what pleased the Mighty Fed most was that after winning in Dubai, travelling half way around the world and reaching the final in the Californian desert, he was still feeling physically fit and ready for Miami.

 

“The body is perfectly fine,” he said. “That also always keeps me upbeat, and I feel it’s a privilege when I feel this way.”

 

The day had started with the most unexpected new champion of all: Bianca Andreescu.

 

A lot of little girls dream of winning a big title – a Wimbledon or a US Open perhaps – but when Andreescu dreams about something, she tends to make it happen. Creative visualisation, she calls it and as she prepared for her first big final, she was picturing herself lifting the trophy.

 

Bianca Andreescu of Canada hugs the trophy after winning against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

Bianca Andreescu of Canada hugs the trophy after winning against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Finals at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2019. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

“It was not only this morning but so many times,” she said having beaten Angelique Kerber 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win $1.3 million and announce herself on the big stage. “It’s crazy to think that it became a reality today.”

 

Not all of it became a reality, though. As she stepped forward to claim her trophy at the presentation ceremony, she tried to lift the huge glass sculpture. Oops, that was not a wise move. So she let it be and let the photographers snap her standing behind it.

 

““It’s, like, like 40 pounds,” she said. “Thank God I didn’t drop it during the ceremony. That would have been a story to remember.”

 

No matter. If she continues to play the way she has these past 10 days, there will plenty more big and important titles to win, ones that come with physically smaller trophies. All things being equal, she should be hoisting a lot of silverware in the coming years.

 

But back to that visualisation business. Like Naomi Osaka last year (and for the next 10 months as she rose to world No.1), Andreescu has the ability to shut out the world in the big pressure moments. And like Osaka, she can hit the ball with such freedom and precision – when she is on song, she a terrifying sight. Well, terrifying if you are standing on the other side of the net. For the general public, the 18-year-old Canadian is a delight to watch and the crowd fell in love with her as she dismantled the experienced and aggressive Kerber.

 

“It basically is nothing can distract me [when I’m in the zone].” She explained. “I’m relaxed. I trust myself. I trust my shots. I feel confident. In those moments, I try to breathe as much as I can, as well, to get into the zone. That’s what I do usually before the match.

 

“In this past tournament, it’s definitely helped. I have been in the zone, I think, every match. There were some ups and downs in some matches, obviously. Tennis isn’t a perfect sport. So I’m just — this means everything to me.”

 

She said that a lot once the match was over and she sounded like a rookie who had just achieved a lifetime goal. But on court, she was mature and she was fierce. It did not matter that her shoulder was tight and she was cramping towards the end, it did not matter that a former world No.1 and three-time grand slam champion was trying to boss her around in the second set and at the start of the third. This was to be her title, and there were no two ways about it.

 

When she spoke to her coach having just dropped serve in the final set, she gave him a simple message: “I really want this,” she told Sylvian Bruneau. And then she went out and got it only to return to her 18-year-old self once the job was done.

 

“A year ago, during this period, I had been struggling a lot with my tennis and with my body, too,” she gushed. “So it’s crazy what a year can do. I was playing 25Ks in Japan, and now I’m the — can I say the F-word? No, I can’t.  Now, I’m the effing champion of Indian Wells. It’s crazy. Crazy is the word of the tournament for me. Just crazy.”

 

If she keeps playing like this, she will be the effing champion of many a place more, too.

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