Nadal Pulls Out, Leaves Federer v Thiem For Indian Wells Title, Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | March 16th, 2019, 9:35 pm
  • 87 Comments

The big question of the day in the tennis world was would Rafael Nadal be able to play his Indian Wells semifinal match against Roger Federer? Not surprisingly, the answer was no.

That right knee Rafa tweaked yesterday in his tough win over Karen Khachanov, simply wasn’t good enough to go today. Nor will it be ready for Miami, so Rafa’s already looking ahead to the clay. And it’s probably the right move not risking another prolonged absence like we saw after the US Open.

“As I said yesterday after the match, I felt that something happened in the knee,” Nadal said. “I wanted to try my best to be competitive today. I warmed up today in the morning and I felt that my knee was not enough good to compete at the level that I need to compete, to play the semi-finals of this event.”

Closing in on 33, it’s going to be imperative that Rafa take care of his body and mind his knees. And that will likely mean fewer hardcourt tournament – why did he even bother playing Acapulco?

And he’s never been one to be afraid to retire or withdraw, and that now includes when he’s matched up with Roger. So he doesn’t take any chances and I think he make the right call not taking one today.

Hopefully, it’s nothing serious and he’ll be fine for the clay. But the hard fast is, the end isn’t far away for Rafa.

So without hitting a ball today, Federer moves on to his ninth Indian Wells final, and he’ll meet Dominic Thiem who also benefited from a walkover, that coming from Gael Monfils on Thursday. But this afternoon, Milos Raonic made him work.

Thiem started out virtually untouchable on serve in the first set, but the Canadian began making some inroads on Thiem’s serve in the second. Eventually, Raonic, using his own serve, bombed his way through the breaker to even things.

Thiem avoided some tense moments in his first service game of the third, and then got the first break of the match in the fifth game.

Serving out for his first Indian Wells final, Raonic had a break chance but couldn’t make it happen as Thiem took it 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-4 in 2 hours, 31 minutes.

“I knew it’s gonna be tough,” Thiem said. “His serve is unreal. I knew that there was going to be probably a tie-break. I played really well the whole match, basically. I didn’t make a lot of unforced errors. And I had a very good first serve percentage. That was great.

“In general, it was a very good match because the only break point I had to save was in the last game, and that was what I wanted to do, to play my service games well and not give him too many chances.”

Roanic, who had played decent in his last two matches, couldn’t hang with Thiem from the baseline, which wasn’t a big surprise. But Thiem’s ability to easily hold serve, without getting broken all day, was.

“There were definitely some things I would have liked to do better, but I thought I competed and I tried to figure things out as best as I could,” said Raonic. “It’s the way it goes. He played well. He did the smart things and he did the things better at the end.

“He was pushing me back. He wasn’t missing many first serves. Then he was aggressive from the very first ball. There wasn’t many times that I got to be on the offensive on the return games and when I did, I wasn’t efficient about taking advantage of it.”

So Thiem will get his third chance for Masters glory against Federer tomorrow. Will he do it?

Roger Federer v Dominic Thiem
For Federer, Raonic would have been a better matchup because against the Canadian I think Roger would know he wouldn’t have any issues holding serve. Thiem is a totally different animal than Raonic.

Thiem’s like a right-handed Rafa, just not as smart or as polished. Heavy, tireless groundstrokes, decent serve (which seems to be improving), quick around the court and like Rafa, Thiem will benefit from this court, but will have to be wary of his court positioning.

“It’s always something special to play Roger and also something special to compete in Masters 1000 finals,” said Thiem. “It’s only my third one. I have pretty bad stats in the finals, so I know it’s going to be very tough, but at the same time, I will give everything to hopefully win my first title.”

The two have split four meetings with Thiem winning on clay and grass back in 2016 and Roger getting the last win at the ATP Finals back in the fall improving him to 2-0 against the Austrian on hard courts. So Roger, based on his experience and his two wins over Thiem on hard courts, is the clear favorite and he gets the edge.

However, I still feel like Roger’s beatable. The courts still look awfully slow, much more suitable to Thiem than Federer. And Thiem should be able to use that court to just pound shots to Roger’s backhand. Over and over and over again.

Thiem will have to be up in the court and serve well, otherwise Federer will roll.

The difference in the end should be the key moments. We know Federer can get through those, he’s proven that. Thiem, though, has never won a match like this – 0-2 in Masters finals, 0-1 in Slam finals – so that gives me too much pause. And with no Rafa, no Djokovic, I think Federer knows he can steal a Masters tomorrow then take six week off before the clay.

Thiem keeps it close, gets a set, but come crunch time, the 25-year-old feels the pressure and Federer gets a 6th Indian Wells and 101st career title.
The Pick: Federer in 3

ESPN will have live coverage of both finals starting with the Angelique Kerber-Bianca Andreescu at 4pm.


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87 Comments for Nadal Pulls Out, Leaves Federer v Thiem For Indian Wells Title, Who’s The Pick?

Daniel Says:

Of the last 8 years, including this one, Federer made IW finals 6 times (the most of any active players), lost 2 to Djoko and 1 to DelPo. Chance for a record 6th title and second straight after Dubai.
Will enter Miami with huge momentum knowing that even if he makes final weekend in Miami he has full 5 weeks before Madrid, plenty of time to rest. He will only play Miami1st round next weekend and have some day in between early 3 rounds, also fresh after short 1 hour matches in IW and this walkover.


chrisford1 Says:

I don’t know about Fed and “tremendous momentum”. The season is young. Djokovic likes Miami, has his own momentum thing still on. A loss at IW doesn’t impact his standings.

I would be shocked if Nadal will play Miami with his knee and also with his beloved clay beckoning. Djokovic obviously, like Nadal, sees the French Open as an attainable big prize. Winning it would end the 1st half of the season on a high note for either guy, should they be so fortunate.

But Djokovic has always loved Miami, and will play to win.

It will be a highlight that the now-Big 3 will play Madrid Masters. Some years Djokovic and Fed have skipped the event. I don’t think Nadal has ever missed it – maybe one year due to injury early in his career? And it will be David Ferrer’s retirement. He has been a friend of Novaks for many years, and with Rafa all through Rafa’s pro career. Ferrer has oodles of respect from all Big 4 and it might even be an occasion for Andy Murray to show up to honor David as the two (Andy leads 14-6) had epic battles.


Giles Says:

^^ Are you living in cuckoo land? How on earth can Rafa even consider Miami when he has just withdrawn from a sf in IW??


FedExpress Says:

Unreal choke by Bianca so far

served for the champ. had 3 Mps. but got broken.


Van Persie Says:

Wow. My fave Canadian tennis player ever. Lovely girl😁


Van Persie Says:

Congrats Bianca!


FedExpress Says:

But Biamca breaks for thr championship win. Kerber couldnt beat a cramping player. She either wins a GS or a little tournament. But no has no Premier Mandatory or Premier 5 tournaments. Like Delpo for a while.


Van Persie Says:

Now go Thiem! Am to tired to watch the match


FedExpress Says:

Kerber has too many runner up finishes compared to her title hauls.

12 titles to 16 runner up finishes. Even in her best year (2016) in which she won 2 GSs she lost in the finals of Wimbledon, the Olympics, Cincinnati and WTF.


FedExpress Says:

And this match also showed why on court coaching should be banned. The pep talk by Biancas coach from 2-3 was key. But a player should handle such situations alone.


Django Says:

Why are they allowing such coaching? If women have it men should have it.


Daniel Says:

Fed missed 3 straight BP’s with UEs. Now will play another.


Daniel Says:

Fed got the break. Thiem going all the time to Fed’s BH, including serves, so far Fed able to handle, some slices to cut the pace.


jatin Says:

Fed on fire with the backhand returns. Not missing any so far, taking them early.
So far, so good.
3-0


FedExpress Says:

After Fed missed all the BO chances I thought “here we go again”. But he broke. Played sublime drop shots.

Thiem attacks Feds BH mostly. Hope Fed withstands that onslaught.

3-0


Daniel Says:

I think s Fed’s tactics to return so inside, Thiem tends sometimes to take pace out and not serve 1st full power, so Fed is able to return with interest. 4-2, keep the hold and seal the set.


jatin Says:

Thiem super solid after that break.


Daniel Says:

Wow, nice drop angled volley by Thiem.


jatin Says:

Beautiful drop volley from thiem


jatin Says:

Wow, Thiem was super aggressive in that game and he has broken back


Daniel Says:

Thiem very aggressive this game, returning all serves. It payed off attaching BH. Back on serve.


FedExpress Says:

back on serve

Thiem breaks by absolutely murdering Feds BH.


FedExpress Says:

From the IW loss last year the whole season went downhill.

I hope it doesnt repeat this time.


Daniel Says:

Thiem try to change and serve to FH, but Fed made a great return, 2 BPs


jatin Says:

Fed on FIRE.


Daniel Says:

Fed unlucky. Great return and ball in by a hair. 7 BP so far.

Wow, what a return, he is covering that wide serve nicely. Break and 5-3 to serve the set out.


jatin Says:

Nice First set by Fed.
6-3


FedExpress Says:

First set Federer

but the way he broke again to lead 5-3 was just sublime. Even after that close call on BP where the ball barely touched the line he remained calm and played a good drop volley and finished it with a BH return winner on BP.

Mentally he is solid as a rock and doesnt get frustrated or irritated by setbacks.

Come on Champ. One more srt.


jatin Says:

What a Drop shot by Fed. MAGIC


jatin Says:

Fed making some Amazing Drop Shots


FedExpress Says:

that bp conversion rate is the only bad thing for fed. Thiem leads 2-1 after saving 2 Bps without a 1st serve


jatin Says:

Fed is going for it though in returns. He will get a break soon.


jatin Says:

Thiem breaks.
Lead, 3-1


FedExpress Says:

or gets broken by himself. lol. we have a match.


Daniel Says:

Fed going to the net without proper approach. Thiem zooning now.


jatin Says:

Thiem is out of nowhere flying in the court.


FedExpress Says:

total brainfart the net rushing on 2nd serves.


jatin Says:

Thiem out of nowhere flying in the court right now. Looking dangerous.


jatin Says:

Fed somehow hold


jatin Says:

Fed’s level has dropped quite considerably.


FedExpress Says:

wow. some bad shots. not confident anymore.


FedExpress Says:

thiem wearing fed down just like nole did in 2014.

fed needs to recover quickly. he had a good chanche to break. whole court was open for a backhand winner.

5-3

Feds BH cant handle Thiems Power


FedExpress Says:

3rd set it is.

will serve first. but thiem has all the confidence abd momentum.


jatin Says:

Nice set from thiem.
Hope fed can regain his first serve in this set. And try to put more variety on his return games.


FedExpress Says:

the amount of IW finals Fed lost between 2014 and 2019 is just too much.


Daniel Says:

Third set it is. At least Fed serves 1st, he has to take his chances, 2/10 BP is low, although most of those were in the 2 games he actually broke. Third numbers a bit better overall.


Daniel Says:

He is 2-3 FedEx, if he wins today he makes it to 3-3.


jatin Says:

Nice start from Roger.
Comon


Daniel Says:

Thiem is loose and confidant. Fed has to be careful and hold his game to maybe have chances in Thiem’s serve.


FedExpress Says:

The last thing I need is another heartbreaking deciding TB loss


Daniel Says:

Fed increases 1st serve percentagem and is great on serve, needs to click some great return and points on Thiem’s, maybe count on Thiem making 1 or 2 UE. Solid set by both so far and quick


jatin Says:

Fed needs to get into the rallies in Thiem’s service games. He is super solid on his serve so far.
4-3 fed so far


Daniel Says:

Too much Federer, it would have been 0-40, virtually triple MP


FedExpress Says:

what tf did Fed do on 0-30. How he cannot be 0-40?

BP gone.


Van orten Says:

Guess what happens now


Daniel Says:

Match is on fire now


jatin Says:

Simply breathtaking set of tennis. Thiem not budging at all.


jatin Says:

Fed holds.


Daniel Says:

Thiem making a lot of winner this set, spanking the ball. Pressure on Thiem now down 4-5.


Daniel Says:

30-30, huge point. Fed 2 points away from IW history


FedExpress Says:

Was just suicide at 30-30 to charge on

Feds turn now


vk Says:

Will Thiem surpass Chokerer in choking


Van orten Says:

Fed doing what he does best … making his opponent stronger than he is .. again hard to watch him lose a match like that .. still not over but man .. so many chances again


FedExpress Says:

Brainfart by Fed

GSM Thiem


Daniel Says:

Federer brain farting, 2 FHs to win and he hit drop shots. Deserves to lose.

That FH he missed 3-4 game 0-30 cost him the match. He would have broken had it be 0-40 and serve the match out. Now this bizarre game after 30-15 game with 2 FHs drop shots, showing that he is a bit tentative with his FH today. He was bullied by Them who is unleashing FH bombs all match and it kind of mess with his head and FH.


Daniel Says:

Finally Thiem missed a flat shot. Fed will need more to have a chance and force breaker.


van orten Says:

It’s funny .. all fed haters should worship him even more the way he loses matches is just unique .. chances chances and gets broken always the next game ..it’s thiem for Christ sake


vk Says:

Roger Brain “Farterer”


jatin Says:

Congrats Thiem for the great win.
Tough luck Fed. Still a great tournament.


RZ Says:

This is the Thiem performance I’d been waiting for. Phenomenal! 👏👏👏👏👏💪💪💪💪🏆🏆🏆🏆


van orten Says:

We all know against Rafa or djoker thiem would have choked the hardest way possible .. but good for him he played v roger who again cannot find the killer blow when it was right there for the taking .. hope thiem can deliver vs the other guys .. he played very well .. congratulations for his first 1000 masters ..


Daniel Says:

Fitting to end the match with a Federer FH error in the net. Full credito to Thiem who found himself during the match, bullied Fed with his FH to the point that he shrink Fed ability to dictate with that shot.

But Federer had plenty of chances, 2-11 in BP’s, that FH to set triple BP and those 2 back to back drop shots FH inside the court leading 30-15 to secure breaker. Bizarre wrong choices for a player with his experience.

2-4 in IW finals out of the last 8 editions is bad. Too many Masters losses for him, he should be beyond 30 together with Nadal and Djoko long time.

ATP record 19 tourneys played in 2019 won by 19 different players. Never happened before, showing that this year things can be pretty unpredictable.


Andy Mira Says:

Much much congrats RZ for Thiemy win!!….I knew u love him too & waited for him to win big title like this for so long!…Enjoy it Team Thiem!!


Wog Boy Says:

Sehr Gut Her Thiem.


Wog Boy Says:

37 years old is yet to beat top 10 player this year and top 5 for more than a year now.


van orten Says:

But he is still competitive . What do some expect from him?? to win them all ????? He is just in a different mind set now .. winning losing . He doesn’t care that much .. he has everything he ever wanted .. just cool to see him be so happy for thiem .. roger will always be the greatest because he simply doesn’t try so hard to win everything.. he loses matches like this pretty often unless Rafa or djoker ..he makes the opponent enjoy playing with him .. win or lose .. he doesn’t care .. his game is beautiful!!!!


FedExpress Says:

No cojones to defend BPs and no cojones to convert BPs.

Season will follow the pattern like it did in 2018 after the IW loss.

reached 5 finals between 2014 till 2019 and lost four of them. borderline poor.

all the hard gained momentum and confidence from Dubai down the toilet.


FedExpress Says:

Thiem was 3/4 on Bps ffs


skeezer Says:

“..37 yr old….”
Lol love it.
He got to thr finals of a masters 1000. Anyone else besides Theim?

Fed is getting the senioritis, comes with age. Brain goes on holiday and will forget to tell the body what to do on occasion. Happens to everyone.


RZ Says:

Thanks AM! I hope Team Thiem can carry this momentum through the French Open and snag a couple big clay titles on the way


skeezer Says:

vo,
👍🎾


Wog Boy Says:

Relax people, it’s only another IW final loss, no biggie, no?

Meanwhile, Nole continued holiday in America, this time with Martina, I wonder if Lulu fancies Pier or Tesla or not? With his idol Sampras too.

https://mobile.twitter.com/DjokerNole


Andy Mira Says:

Oh boy RZ!…If he can perform on HC & snag a title like this,i dreaded his clay form!…he’s a beast on clay too!…and will go to clay swing with big confidence & momentum!…

It’s amazing RZ!….I mean,only a 3 or 4 weeks ago i read Gunter Bresnik said he was puzzled by Thiem’s lack of energy due to his illness & now he won a title!…SALUTE THIEMY!!

Good luck to Thiem & u too RZ for the rest of the season!


skeezer Says:

“Relax people, it’s only another IW final loss, no biggie, no?”
37 yr old man making another ATP final? Totolay chillaxed.
Much better being runner up to a masters 1000 than being out in R64.
Lol.


chrisford1 Says:

Andy Mira – Dom’s QF against Nadal at the USO was one of the top 5 matches of the year, I think! That was a heroic battle by both guys over 5 sets.
Clay may be his best, but like Nadal, Thiem is too good a player not to do well on other surfaces.

===============
Wog,
All things considered, IW was a good time for Djokovic. Out in the 3rd round, but he made the semis in doubles with Fognini and came razor close to getting to the finals. The day finally arrived – he can be a winner at doubles. And when Nadal dropped out, Haas as tournament director asked for Djokovic to help out with a short notice exhibition doubles for the fans. Novak dropped what he was doing, said sure, and found he was paired with Pete Sampras against Haas and John McEnroe. One happy guy with how that all turned out!


Andy Mira Says:

Yes CF1!…I still remember those!…Thiem, like other good clay courter like Schwartzman is very good on HC too…if only he’s willing to step up much closer to the baseline,i’m sure he could intimidate his opponents more & do the damage with his powerful shots esp. bh..He got so much firepower & speed too..

The sudden arrival of Tsitsipas made us forget how good Thiem is!…


Wog Boy Says:

CF1,
Correct, if you read my post before his match in R32 (not R64) I said I had bad vibes about that match, after so many years following Nole I learned to read his body language and his box body language.
He obviously came underprepared and not too committed for IW. He brought extended family with him, you don’t do that if you are aiming for the title, seeing Marko, Djordje and others and not seeing Vajda in his box was clear message, though I have to admit that Cohli’s secret weapon, that out of this world topspin, topspin that has never been seen nor used before decided the match, same topspin that gave him not 1 but 2 games against Monfils;)
According to fanatics only GSs matters and Nole bagged that one this year, record 7th one, who cares for IW, it’s only masters, no?
Yes, I have seen his doubles with Sampras on YT, it looked like a lot of fun and then his meeting with Navratilova and her dog Lulu, he was as relaxed as ever, obviously enjoying sightseeing in Cali;)
I just feel bad for all those people and their wasted time calculating titles records, won and lost finals in the match that everyone knew 37 years old would win in 2 easy sets….ohh wait;)
BTW, 37 years is proven mental midget when it comes to crunch, 19 finals with Nole, only 6 wins, doesn’t bode well with his so-called GOAT legacy, I am not mentioning Rafa, no?

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