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By Chris Oddo | Saturday March 16, 2019

 
Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem edged Milos Raonic to reach his first hardcourt Masters 1000 final at Indian Wells.

Photo Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Dominic Thiem powered into his first Masters 1000 final on a hardcourt with a crisp 7-6(3) 6-7(3) 6-4 takedown of Canada’s Milos Raonic on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open.

Theim’s victory sets a final with five-time champion Roger Federer, who moved through when Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from what would have been the pair’s 39th meeting.


For Thiem, the victory represents a breakthrough. He had struggled with form early in the season after becoming ill in January and needing several weeks to recover.

Earlier in the week Thiem talked about his grueling off-season in Tenerife, and admitted that he may have started his off-season training block too soon, not giving his body enough time to rest after a long season.

Finally, after a 3-4 start to the season prior to Indian Wells, we are seeing the 25-year-old in top form.


He continued to prove that he has made significant strides on a hardcourt by defeating big servers Ivo Karlovic and Raonic in back-to-back matches (sandwiched in between a walkover that was granted when Gael Monfils pulled out of the quarter-finals due to injury).

Last year Thiem reached the U.S. Open quarter-finals and followed that up with an indoor title in St. Petersburg and a trip to his first Masters 1000 semi-final on a hardcourt at Paris.

Here at Indian Wells, Thiem has taken it a step further thanks to an efficient performance against Raonic that featured 25 winners and 9 unforced errors, and saw Thiem make 76 percent of his first serves and face only one break point.

“He was pushing me back, and then he was aggressive from the very first ball,” Thiem said. “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.”

After the pair split the first two sets it was the Austrian who broke through for 3-2 in the decider on his second break point of the game after winning a long rally and eliciting a forehand error from Raonic.

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He would have to battle nerves and a pesky Raonic in the final game, but saved the only break point he faced in the match when the Canadian raced in and pushed a backhand slice long of the baseline.

It was a decent opportunity for Raonic to reclaim the break, as he put his return deep in play before Thiem left quite a bit of air under his drop shot, which landed just inside the service line.

With Theim serving at 5-4 deuce a forehand winner gave Thiem a second match point. He ripped another crosscourt forehand on the ensuing point before depositing a clean backhand volley winner into the open court to seal his victory in two hours and 31 minutes.

Raonic finished with 58 winners to 25 for Thiem (with 19 winners from the serve), but the difference in the end was the break in the third set from Thiem.

“He played well,” Raonic summed. “He did the things smart, and he did the things better at the end."

Tecnifibre T-Fight

Thiem and Federer have split their four career meetings, with Federer taking both hardcourt matches and Thiem owning victories against the Swiss on clay and grass.

 

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