By Ros Satar, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells

  • Roger Federer [4] v Dominic Thiem
  • H2H tied at 2-2
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA USA – Roger Federer will seek to win a record sixth title, while Dominic Thiem is in search of a maiden Masters title at the BNP Paribas Open.

 

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Roger Federer [4] v Dominic Thiem | H2H tied at 2-2

Even without the damp squib that turned out to be ‘Fedal’ XXXIX, we were set for a battle between one of the Big Three and the chasing pack that is expected to take their place. As yet at the Slams no-one from the chasing pack has been able to make that impact at the Slams, but the Masters could well yield a surprise yet.

Roger Federer was denied a chance of moving ahead of Novak Djokovic for the most titles at the BNP Paribas Open by Juan Martin Del Potro last year, while Dominic Thiem continues to press away to claim some accolades of his own as he searches for his first Masters 1000 title.

 

Roger Federer – Path to the final

Embed from Getty Images
  • R1: Bye
  • R2: Peter Gojowczyk 6-1, 7-5
  • R3: Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4
  • R4: Kyle Edmund [22] 6-1, 6-4
  • QF: Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4
  • SF: Rafael Nadal [2] w.o

Federer has yet to drop a set on his way to another final in the desert, perhaps having to shake off a little rust in his opener but looking very impressive along the way. As soon as the draw was released, the semi-final line-up that did not come into being was the jewel in the schedule.

 

Dominic Thiem – Path to the final

Embed from Getty Images
  • R1: BYE
  • R2: Jordan Thompson 6-4, 7-5
  • R3: Gilles Simon [27] 6-3, 6-1
  • R4: Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-3
  • QF: Gael Monfils [18] w.o.
  • SF: Milos Raonic [13] 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-4

With one walkover each, Thiem was made to work in the midday sun to book a spot in the final and he will be hoping it is third time’s the charm as he bids for a first Masters title in his career.

It will be the battle of the single-handed backhands as the Austrian backs that up with a heavy forehand. With the courts being quite gritty and allowing the ball to bounce up quite high, his backhand could do a fair bit of damage.

 

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Preview & Prediction

Federer will want to avoid getting into long drawn out rallies with Thiem. He uses penetrating groundstrokes to build up his points and tries to outlast his opponents and he is not averse to coming into the net to finish off his points.

The perennial question of whether the younger chasing pack, whether they be the lost generation or the NextGen players, can step up will need to be answered at this level and at the Slams.

While Thiem beat Alexander Zverev to a first Grand Slam final, he could not make an impact. He could at least give Federer pause for thought, though.

Prediction: Federer in three sets.

 

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