Underdogs' sparkling haul
Dominic Thiem and Bianca Andreescu threw in some surprises – pushing champions off their spots to claim Indian Wells with conviction
Facing Roger Federer in a finale and toppling him is always special and requires special effort too. For an elated Dominic Thiem, triumphing over the legend in the BNP Paribas Open final was as dreamy as it could get. The Austrian, long heralded as among most talented of his generation, put up a classy display against the Swiss to clinch his first-ever ATP Masters 1000 trophy 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 on scoreboard.
Having experienced a topsy-turvy start to the season, the finale began on similar lines with the 25-year-old striving hard to get his nose in front. Hunting for his 12th ATP Tour prize in total, the Austrian seemed hell bent on putting an end to Roger's starry line of 20 straight final victories. As the encounter progressed, it didn't take Thiem very long to find his stride – accredited to his dizzying backhands – and turn the tables against the bigwig who was awaiting his 101st career title and 28th at the Masters 1000 level.
However, after two hours and two minutes of tennis, he was more or less in seventh heaven – lying on the court celebrating his roller coaster ride of a tournament, where he didn't drop a set on his way to the galvanizing semi-final against Milos Raonic, which he narrowly won before scripting a milestone victory in his third final appearance. Presently, he occupies the 4th spot in the ATP rankings – equaling his highest career ranking.
On the other hand, there are the adventures of Bianca Andreescu – a wild card entry at Indian Wells. She kicked off her 2019 campaign outside the top 100 in the world – but, since then, the teen has come a long way to reach the 24th spot in the rankings. The 18-year-old arrived in the Coachella valley on the back of two finals played this year; and, watching her in the business was a fascinating sight to behold as she went on to register seven wins in the competition, upsetting No 6 and 8 seeds en route the finale. And, not to forget the 6-0, 6-1 drabbing of Grand Slam winner Gabrine Muguruza in the quarters.
As she climbed the ladder, the semi-final and final against top seeds Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber appeared to be tough nuts to crack. But, here again, she audaciously managed to not reel under pressure, albeit moments of wavering focus and inconsistency in between, which only bemoaned a lack of experience, inevitable for a young player playing at such a high level.
Nevertheless, the Canadian, showcasing power plays throughout the tournament, bagged over a million in cash prize and has now become the youngest woman to win the Indian Wells – something no wild card has ever pulled off. Replicating Serena Williams's feat achieved in 1999 in her teenage years, the signs of a formidable player have already started to surface as she has bested all three top-10 opponents she's faced till date – perhaps marking a glittering future in the sport.