March 18, 2019
Bianca Andreescu became the youngest winner in the desert since a 17-year-old Serena Williams back in 1999.
You could have forgiven Andreescu for partying like it was 1999 too.
Instead the ambitious Canadian wildcard already had her eye on even greater things.
Meanwhile Dominic Thiem downed the legendary Roger Federer in another three-set thriller to take his first ATP Masters 1000 title.
You might say one star was born, another remembered over this momentous weekend.
A lot of people had overlooked Thiem. Or even forgotten about him in the grand scheme of things.
The 25-year-old has been around a while and beaten everyone. But in a sense he is the wrong age.
Too old to be part of the charismatic next generation of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev. Too young to be one of the revered warriors such as Federer or Rafael Nadal.
And despite taking all the significant scalps, Thiem had never won anything terribly important. Until now.
No one could say he didn’t deserve his biggest win. One of the Federer drop shots Dominic chased down, in the key eleventh game of the final set, was simply breathtaking.
Just to get there in time defied belief. The deft control and unlikely angle Thiem found to send his cross-court winner so delicately and fatally beyond Federer was worthy of the title in itself.
The likeable Austrian secured his break with a fizzing forehand and kept up the pressure until Federer failed with one of his own.
The superb Swiss, who had exploded out of the blocks in such stunning style in search of title 101, looked slightly weary by the end.
He failed to make quite enough room for his final shot and drilled it too low to offer any real hope of clearing the net.
So Thiem had completed the most important comeback of his life and fell briefly to the floor, revelling in the joy of his 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 win, before rushing to console his opponent.
Federer admitted to feeling ‘frusrated and disappointed’ by the defeat.
After all, he was favourite from the moment Rafael Nadal had to pull out of their semi-final, which would have been their first clash since 2017.
But Roger assured us he would get over this reverse quickly, since by now he was used to such moments.
Thiem amusingly reminded us that Roger was used to far happier endings too.
Speaking of Federer’s excellent tournament, Thiem said:
‘I feel it’s not my right to congratulate you. You have 88 more titles than me. ‘So I’m just hoping you play more and we can have some other big finals.’
She may have begun the year outside the top 150. But those days are gone.
For Bianca Andreescu, a first big title contained elements you might also associate with an ageing warrior.
She had leg cramps. She had problems with her right shoulder.
In fact Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber was a break up and seemed on the verge of victory in the final set, when Andreescu needed a medical time out to have that shoulder strapped up.
‘I feel tired. I can barely move,’ the distressed youngster told her coach.
But Andreescu seemed to throw caution to the wind from that point on. She broke back and then piled on the pressure.
However, Andreescu did face a test of nerve when a stubborn Kerber refused to be beaten and saved three match points to prolong the drama.
But when the German’s last, desperate backhand only found the net, Andreescu realised she had pulled off an almighty shock to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 – and collapsed onto her back.
Pretty soon she had regained her composure, though.
As befits a young sensation moving swiftly up the rankings from 60 to 24 in the last few days, she was looking to achieve even greater things.
Can she follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Naomi Osaka, and taste grand slam glory too?
Andreescu said: ‘Naomi did this last year. Now to have my name in front of so many champions, it means the world to me. The next is a grand slam. Let’s see where this can take me.’
And let’s see where the extraordinary surprises at Indian Wells take the world of tennis too.
An already-fascinating year just took on another dimension, why not see it for yourself at Wimbledon 2019 make sure you visit our tickets page.