Federer Says Thiem Was ‘Better When It Really Mattered’
Roger Federer fell short in the BNP Paribas Final for the second consecutive year on Sunday, losing to Dominic Thiem in three sets. But even with a record-setting sixth title on the line, Federer took the loss with perspective.
“I'm not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet,” Federer said. “[I] just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered. That's how it goes. Sure, it's frustrating and disappointing and sad to some extent. But look, I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly.”
Federer also missed out on his sixth Indian Wells title in last year's final against Juan Martin del Potro, failing to convert three championship points against Juan Martin del Potro. He also fell just short in the California desert in 2014, '15.
“It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong [against Thiem]. The return he hits on the line at 5-all [in the third set], that's the one I needed, and I couldn't produce that. Why is that? You can start looking, digging so deep, and then you end up getting lost, rather than just saying he played maybe a little bit better when he really had to,” Federer said. “I didn't feel like I played bad, either. I had my chances. I was in the points.”
It would be one thing if Federer was blown off the court because of his own poor play. But, for the most part, the deciding factor was Thiem’s fearlessness in the big moments, not a Federer implosion.
“I feel like I'm actually playing good tennis. Like, in Australia, I wasn't too down on myself because I feel like my game is there, my body is there. I think when you feel that way, you take it more... positively?” said Federer, who was stunned in the fourth round of the Australian Open by reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. “I don't know how to explain, but it's just not as dramatic. Whereas, when you're hurt and things are difficult… maybe those hurt more.”
This loss may sting a little bit, but Federer has still won 12 of 14 matches this year. At the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the Swiss became the second player in the Open Era to earn 100 tour-level titles (Jimmy Connors, 109).
“I'm happy for Dominic, winning his first Masters 1000, as well. It's a massive event to win,” Federer said. “I just got my 100th in Dubai, and I had a good week here. Really, there is no reason to get down. Plus there is more to look forward to in Miami.”
Federer will now turn his attention to the Miami Open presented by Itau, the second Masters 1000 tournament of the year. With Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, the Swiss will be the fourth seed. And while Federer has played 10 matches since only 25 February, he is eager to pursue his fourth trophy at that event.
"The body is perfectly fine. That also always keeps me upbeat, and I feel it's a privilege when I feel this way leaving a tournament,” Federer said. “I have been playing every single day for the past three weeks. I can be very happy and proud of that fact.
“I feel really good, so why shouldn't I go into the tournament and to the event confident?”