DelPo-Federer Among Epic Finals Of Past 10 Years
For the second straight year, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will not be played in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament, which typically acts as the ATP Masters 1000 season curtain-raiser, has crowned a star-studded list of champions throughout its history, including 11 former World No. 1s.
Over the past decade, four finals have stood out from the crowd as instant classics. In celebration of the Masters 1000 event, ATPTour.com has taken a look back at the thrilling 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019 championship matches from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
2013 – Nadal d. Del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
In just his fourth event since returning from a seven-month absence due to a left knee injury, Nadal arrived at the BNP Paribas Open final in peak form. The Spaniard had regained his best level on clay, with two victories from three finals on the surface, and entered the championship match in the desert with a 16-1 record in 2013.
Across the net, Juan Martin del Potro was attempting to claim his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy. The Tower of Tandil had claimed consecutive comeback wins against Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to edge closer to his second crown of the year, following his title run at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
Del Potro established a 6-4, 3-1 advantage, but Nadal raised his forehand aggression to turn the match in his favour and capture his third trophy at the opening Masters 1000 event of the season. It proved to be the start of a stunning hard-court run for the Mallorcan, who won his opening 22 matches of the year on the surface to clinch further titles at Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open.
"The support since I came back has been huge,” said Nadal. “It's an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament."
2014 – Djokovic d. Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3)
One year after Nadal and Del Potro’s epic final, Roger Federer and Djokovic produced another memorable championship match in Indian Wells.
Four-time champion Federer was seeking his 12th straight win, which included a semi-final victory against Djokovic at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Djokovic was aiming to capture his first title of the year and tie 17-time Masters 1000 champion Andre Agassi in third position on the Masters 1000 titles leaderboard.
After dropping the opening set, Djokovic recovered well and gave himself the opportunity to serve for the title at 5-4 in the decider. But Federer refused to go away. The Swiss recovered the break and reached a final-set-tie-break, before Djokovic regained his composure and charged to the title. With Djokovic serving at 6/3 in the tie-break, both players had claimed 98 points. The Serbian attacked Federer’s backhand to claim his 99th point of the match and his 42nd tour-level title.
"The way I won this title is something that makes me very happy and gives me mentally a lot of satisfaction… A few points really here and there could go either way, and then it went my way,” said Djokovic. “I stayed mentally tough, and that, for me, is something that gives me a lot of encouragement and hopefully a confidence boost for the rest of the season."
2018 – Del Potro d. Federer 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2)
In the No. 2 ATP Tour Match of the Year, Juan Martin del Potro ended Roger Federer’s longest unbeaten start to an ATP Tour season (17-0) in dramatic fashion to claim his maiden Masters 1000 trophy.
The 6’6” right-hander joined 2010 champion Ivan Ljubicic as just the second player outside of the Big Three to lift the trophy in Indian Wells since 2004, but he was almost made to rue a major missed opportunity. Del Potro, who was himself on a 10-match winning streak after claiming the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC trophy in Acapulco, made a strong start and came within a point of victory in the second-set tie-break.
The Argentine was unable to convert his first championship point as he dumped a forehand into the net and he soon dropped the second set. In the decider, it was Federer’s turn to come within a point of the title. The Swiss broke Del Potro to serve for the match at 5-4, but the Argentine trusted his forehand under pressure to save three championship points and convert break point. The 2009 US Open champion rode the momentum to dominate the final-set tie-break and become the first South American since David Nalbandian in 2007 to win a Masters 1000 event.
“It's so big,” said Del Potro. “I cannot believe I won this tournament, beating Roger in a great final… We played great tennis today."
2019 – Thiem d. Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
For the second straight year, the Indian Wells final produced the No. 2 ATP Tour Match of the Year and crowned a first-time Masters 1000 titlist.
Dominic Thiem arrived at the event with a 3-4 record in 2019, but he was beginning a new chapter in the Californian desert. Former World No. 9 Nicolas Massu had just joined his team and the partnership quickly produced a milestone result.
Facing Federer for the fifth time in their ATP Head2Head series (tied at 2-2), Thiem used his boisterous backhand to open the court and frequently rattled Federer with 24 winners from all angles. The Austrian, who survived an extended service game at 3-4 in the decider, covered the court with skill and dictated rallies with power from the baseline to clinch victory. Thiem’s win ended a 22-year wait for an Austrian Masters 1000 champion (Muster, 1997 Miami).
“It feels just unreal what happened in these 10 days during the tournament. I came from a really bad form in all categories, and now I'm the champion of Indian Wells. It feels not real at all,” Thiem said. “It was a great week, and I think also a very good final today. Just amazing that I got here, my first really big title.”