Match Stats/Report - Thiem vs Federer, Indian Wells final, 2019


Hall of Fame
Dominic Thiem beat Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the Indian Wells final, 2019 on hard court

It was Thiem's to date only Masters title and first final on hard court. Federer was playing in record extending 9th final at the event and remains the co-leader with 5 titles with Novak Djokovic. Federer would shortly after win the title in Miami

Thiem won 95 points, Federer 86

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (67/97) 69%
- 1st serve points won (47/67) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (18/30) 60%
- Aces 1, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/97) 29%

- 1st serve percentage (59/84) 70%
- 1st serve points won (42/59) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (12/25) 48%
- Aces 3
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/84) 23%

Serve Pattern
Thiem served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 1%

Federer served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Thiem made...
- 63 (21 FH, 42 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (63/82) 77%

Federer made...
- 66 (18 FH, 48 BH), including 1 drop-return
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 26 Errors, comprising...
- 12 Unforced (2 FH, 10 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 14 Forced (7 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (66/94) 70%

Break Points
Thiem 3/4 (3 games)
Federer 2/11 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Thiem 22 (14 FH, 4 BH, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Federer 20 (6 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 3 OH)

Thiem's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 2 dtl, 7 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 2 running-down-drop-shot cc passes at net
- BHs - 1 cc return pass, 2 dtl and 1 dtl/inside-out pass

Federer's FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-in (1 return), 1 longline (for which Thiem was on the ground) and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl return, 1 inside-in return and 1 drop shot

- 4 from serve-volley points - 2 first volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV) & 2 second volleys (2 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a swinging shot, 1 OH on bounce from baseline and the FH1/V was a non-net shot from no-man's land

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Thiem 44
- 28 Unforced (16 FH, 12 BH)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV)... with 2 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.4

Federer 43
- 30 Unforced (15 FH, 15 BH)... with 1 FH pass attempt, 1 BH running-drop-shot at net & 1 BH was an incorrect challenge
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(Note 2: The 'Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Thiem was...
- 11/16 (69%) at net

Federer was...
- 26/35 (74%) at net, including...
- 10/13 (77%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 9/10 (90%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/3 (33%) off 2nd serve
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Good match of contrasting styles. Thiem hammers away from the back, Federer takes to net and uses drop shots to attack. Action is close and would favour Thiem in the decider as he's particularly brutal in his hitting, but its a 1-good-game/1-bad-game to decide sets encounter where result is up in the air. Court is slow

Points of interest are Federer's returning style and the differences in the way two players look to finish points. Statistically anyway, the former leads to the biggest difference between the two players (in actuality, match is decided by ironic against-runs-of-patterns happenings - more on that later)

Winners - Thiem 22, Fed 20
Errors Forced - Thiem 13, Fed 16
UEs - Thiem 28, Fed 30
(Double Faults - Thiem 3, Fed 2)

Comes out dead even - Thiem 67 points, Fed 67. Leaving -

- Unreturned serves - Thiem 29%, Fed 23%

Its not crucial as far as determining match outcome goes. As stated earlier, its a 1-good-or-bad game to determine outcome of sets match. Where it is important is in what's not happening that could reasonably be happening viz. Fed's freebies being kept down to minimum

Federer serves well, considerably better than Thiem. While making 70% first serves in, he's constantly hitting his spots out wide while Thiem serves in Fed's swing zone. With Fed also serve-volleying a fair amount (13 times - 10 of first serves), 1 possiblity for Fed to come out ahead is with a boatload of unreturned serves.

Court is slow, but wouldn't be the first time Fed's serve has overcome that hurdle. He had over 40% unreturned on similar surface against Rafael Nadal in '17 Indian Wells and on clay against Novak Djokovic in '11 French Open to give 2 examples.

To be clear, its not a court where you would want to count on unreturned serves to blow away good returners, but Thiem keeping Fed down to low 23% unreturned rate reflects an exceptional job on the return. Does it without leaving Fed too much advantage for the third ball too - and Fed doesn't have the power off the ground to be too damaging on this court

Thiem mixes up return position - often taking second serves from well behind baseline but usually keeping orthodox postion couple steps behind baseline. He returns he challenging Fed serve without strain

On flip side, Fed takes an Agassi-like early position, returning first serves from on baseline and seconds a step or 2 inside. Thiem serves decently, but wouldn't be a problem to get returns in play from normal position. Fed's early one leads to errors - he's got 12/26 of his return errors have been marked UEs, as opposed to 5/16 for Thiem - but he's also able to rush Thiem when he makes the return (as well as having 3 winners, which is unusal for him)

Its a long-term percentage strategy. Fed's bound to miss returns that would routine from where he's taking them, but if he can get few in in a row (ending a point or 2 best case scenario or putting Thiem on defensive), its likely to lead to breaks. At cost of giving up easy holds when he misses. Strategy works assuming Fed can hold regularly, which you'd back him too (and he does). It also minimizes longer, grueling baseline rallies that would likely favour Thiem (and end up doing)

Is giving up 29% unreturned serves an acceptable cost for that? Potentially, but it turns out not be, for which I'd credit Thiem's play. Thiem wins 60% 2nd serve points (much higher than Fed's 48%) despite having 1 more double fault. First serve in and 1st serve points won are virtually the same (Fed +1% on both)
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Hall of Fame
Its not enough to be decisive. Breaks points figures are Thiem 3/4 (3 games), Fed 2/11 (4 games)

In play, Thiem initially looks to play BH-BH rallies to breakdown Fed's weaker side. His hitting is somewhere between beat-down and out-lasting of force, closer to beat-down. Fed doesn't take a step back and drives BHs too and isn't unduly uncomfortable, though he's the one reacting

BH UE counts read Thiem 12, Fed 15. A good outcome from Fed's point of view. He barely slices. Worth a shot, given he's trailing in hitting. Its a high bouncing court, but slicing is probably Fed's best option for getting Thiem to ease off. He doesn't try

In third set in particular, Thiem switches to playing as much off FH as possible, backing away to hit inside-out (on which he has 7 winners, 1 more than Fed's total FH winners) whenever he can. He's belting the cover off virtually every FH, but in controlled, loaded with spin manner. Speed of winners are shown to be around 90mph and they're about the same as all his shots, which aren't placed wide. Its very strong, ball-bashing beat-down play and Fed's left to counter-punch. He's outmatched of power by a large margin. Fed resists reasonably well, occasionally unable to fend back slightly wider shots. FH UEs are also close - Thiem 16, Fed 15, with Thiem's doing a lot more damage and being a lot more pressuring (Thiem's FH has match high 14 winners, Fed's 6)

Handily outgunned from the back, Fed utilizes net play and drop shots to attack. The net play is beautiful - he places the ball into open side of court fluently but not too hard and pops forward. Both net coverage and finishing on the volley are fine. Anything to putaway is, anything comfortable but short of putaway easy is volleyed well away from Thiem and some excellent, back-pedalling OHs against Thiem's defensive lobs. Has to deal with some powerful passes too, which he mostly manages

10 winners, 0 UEs on the 'volley' from Fed and he wins 74% of 35 approaches (Thiem's at net 16 times - more than half to deal with drop shots).

The drop shots are prettier still. Left to react at best and often defend in baseline exchanges, Fed takes to drop shotting to end points. He's got 2 winners, forces 3 errors, draws another error or otherwise, follows drop shots to net to finish off. Prior to last set, Thiem's just 5/10 at net (he wins all 6 points in the last set). The BH drop shot is particularly good, played amidst a normal, hard hitting BH-BH raly from couple steps behind baseline. Thiem doesn't see its a drop shot til after the shots been hit, which is how it usually is. No telegraphing the shot from Fed

In nutshell, Thiem leading and winning lions share of baseline points on back of being much heavier hitter. Fed content to hang in, attack quickly behind his serve or in return games, drop shot or come to net to counter. Doing both beautifully and well

The irony is that its drop-shotting and net-play that gets him broken in both sets he loses. In decider, Thiem hits consecutive running-down-drop-shot at net winners after having been embarressed by the shot for rest of match. In second set, Fed chooses to take on Thiem's return by 2nd serve-volleying 3 times in a row with Thiem standing well behind baseline

Where Thiem's standing and the way he takes large cuts on the return, its likely Fed would need to volley on those points, but get a good look at the ball too. He wins 1, loses 2 with Thiem getting strong returns off all 3 times (1 a winner) and with double fault starting the game, leaves Fed down 2 break points. This time he stays back and misses FH to give up the break

Match Progression
Thiem ball bashes and Fed reacts in kind at start of match with a lot of BH-BH rallies. Fed sprinkles perfectly disguised and precise drop shots on occasion, invariably winning points when he does. Fed's also on look out to come to net after hitting short balls wide and is clinical up there

Fed breaks early to go ahead 3-0. His BH blinks thrice from 0-40 up in game 2, but he comes away with the break after forcing an error with a drop shot and Thiem missing a couple of attacking groundstrokes

There's a memorable point awhile later where all kinds of rare shots are on show - half-volley drop shots, running-down-drop-shots at net, back-to-net retrieval lobs, lob volleys and a tweener lob. Fed's at net twice and forced back the same. He puts up a good tweener lob but Thiem's upto putting away a not easy smash against it

Players trade breaks near end of set. Thiem aggressively gets his to level match. Fed breaks back, finishing with a neat drop FH1/2V winner from no-man's land, followed by an early taken BH return dtl winner against a 1st serve. Fed serves out to 30 with 4 unreturned serves

Fed's first serve in count drops from 72% in first set to 57% in the second. Having conjured 2 break points before Thiem holds for 2-1, Fed's broken to 15 in game that starts with double fault and where he misses all his first serves. Fed elects to serve-volley behind 3 second serves in a row, Thiem gets meaty returns off against all 3 (including a winner) and wins 2 of them, before Fed misses FH on break point.

No more breaks in the set, and Thiem continues to have better of play

Thiem plays his best in the decider. For one thing, he ups the power of his serving and for first time, Fed genuinely struggles to return. Second, he proactively plays more FHs, backing away to do so when necessary and while blasting them with full force, there's also plenty of controlled spin on his shots. Finally, he starts coming in more and is 6/6 at net for the set

Fed holds comfortably too behind serve-volleys and net play and has the first break pint in game 8, which Thiem opens with a pair of winner attempt FH errors. Thiem takes net to thwart it and his FH gets him over the line to hold

The break comes in game 11 and is a fantastic game from Thiem. Fed hits 2 good drop shots that he follows to net, but for first time in match, Thiem runs both down with difficulty to place winners to bring up break point. On it, he swats a return to baseline to draw a weak ball that he steps in and dispatches FH cc to leave himself serving for match. Which he does without trouble

Summing up, good match from both players, playing in different ways. Thiem serves decently, until upping it to heftily/powerfully in third set. Federer looks to take returns early with reasonable success. Federer serves with precision placement and Thiem returns with great consistency against it. Thiem looks to overwhelm Federer from back of court with big cut groundies off both wings. He has power advantage off both sides and his FH is particularly brutal in its combiantion of power and heavy spin. Federer hangs in best he can from the back, throwing in the odd drop shot out of the blue and looking to take net when he can. Some beautiful net play from Federer when he does get forward and the drop shots are sublime

Thiem's ability to put returns in play versus Federer's limited ability to attack returns would shift prospects the way they end up falling, but there's not much in the result. Both drop shots and serve-volleying are overall successful for Federer, but Thiem stomps on both once each to get the breaks he needs, while his hitting advantage from the back increases as match goes on as he shifts to playing more and more off his very powerful FH


Another patented Federer choke job. 2/11 on BPs, 2nd serve points on his racquet, not taking it to Thiem on his.

Third Serve

Talk Tennis Guru
Got over this match pretty quickly in comparison to the previous year’s final. It was actually a pretty good one (due in part to the contrasting styles - I generally enjoy Federer-Thiem matches) but nothing too special.


Talk Tennis Guru
Disgusting match.
Power beat guile. Sad to see Fred overpowered but this is certainly better than seeing him outpushed and Thiem was actually clutch in the decider. 2017 & 2019 YEC semis were way more disgusting in terms of incessant errorbotting. Add the previous IW final of 2018, which was nice level but the ending was utterly pathetic, many thanks Fred.


Power beat guile. Sad to see Fred overpowered but this is certainly better than seeing him outpushed and Thiem was actually clutch in the decider. 2017 & 2019 YEC semis were way more disgusting in terms of incessant errorbotting. Add the previous IW final of 2018, which was nice level but the ending was utterly pathetic, many thanks Fred.
Yeah thanks for the memories Fed, lol.