Rafael Nadal will not play his semi-final against Roger Federer at the Indian Wells Masters in California after picking up a knee injury in the previous round. But the 25-year-old Austrian's solid serve held up against Federer as it had throughout the tournament. That was astounding consistency from Thiem and he finally broke through with the only service break of the match when Raonic added to his unforced forehand error count - missing one into the net to lose serve to 2-3 in the final set.
Before the match against Milos Raonic, Thiem had said: "He's also very hard to play because he's also good from the baseline".
"I wanted to try my best to be competitive today", Nadal told reporters, including tennis writer Carole Bouchard. "His serve is just unreal so even though I played fantastic it was so close the first two sets". He was forced to quit two sets into his semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro.
"I can be very happy for that".
"The way he was playing the first set was unreal, " Thiem said. "Now it starts the process that I have to decide what direction we have to take to recover well and to recover as soon as possible". I was struggling to work my way into the match.
"He's playing very well, using the kick serve very effectively", Federer said after watching the final set of Thiem's semifinal win.
"There is nothing to look down, things are good for me, I just needed a better shot from time to time".
Canada's Bianca Andreescu, 18, advanced to the women's final on Friday night with a thrilling three-set win over No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
But Thiem was quick to praise Federer after the match and said he will likely never catch up to the Swiss star's 100 tour-level singles titles. For Thiem, this marks a career high, not only being his first Masters 1000 after two failed bids, but also propelling him to world number four.
Knee problems have dogged Nadal for years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September.
The BNP Paribas Open 2019 edition has been dubbed its site a 'tennis paradise.' For many spectators the ATP Masters 1000 / WTA Premier Mandatory event is one of the ultimate experiences in tennis. "Now to have my name in front of so many champions it means the world to me".