Nadal the fall guy who gets up winning again
Indian Wells victory Spaniard’s first hardcourt win since October 2010
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Photograph: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.
After losing the first set and trailing in the second 3-1, Nadal defeated Juan Martin del Potro, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, to claim his third title there and a record 22nd Masters 1000-level title.
It was his first hardcourt title since October 2010; his last nine titles had come on clay.
“To win a title like this is just something unbelievable for me,” Nadal said. “Very, very happy and very emotional. When you have one comeback like I’m having, you know, you remember all the low things, lower moments that you had during this seven months, doubts and all these things.”
The low moments as he was sidelined with knee pain included having to withdraw from the London Olympics, at which he was set to be the flag-bearer for Spain. He also withdrew from the US Open and the Australian Open, missing seven months in all before returning in small Latin American clay-court tournaments last month.
The title was Nadal’s third in 2013, adding to victories in clay events in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Acapulco, Mexico. His record on the year is 17-1, and the title put him back in the top four of the ATP rankings.
But while his success in his comeback has seemed unrelenting, the match was a streaky one, with both players showing flashes of brilliance they struggled to maintain. Nadal started strong with a 3-0 lead, but del Potro reeled off 9 of the next 11 games to take the first set 6-4, and go 3-1 up in the second.
From then on, Nadal steeled himself, winning five straight games to take the second set at 6-3. He then broke del Potro’s serve in the third game of the final set, and held on to that break advantage until the end.
Deserves to win
“I think Rafa deserves to win,” del Potro said. “He plays unbelievable for like an hour there. The last hour of the match he didn’t make effort. He played so solid and put me so far to the baseline and made winners from there.”
In the women’s final on Sunday, Maria Sharapova dominated Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2, 6-2. The match offered one of the purer offence-versus-defence matches available in the sport, and Sharapova blasted 33 winners to Wozniacki’s two.
“I didn’t feel like I was hitting rockets out there,” Sharapova said. “I thought I was being aggressive, but I was doing the right things and being patient enough and looking for the right shot, when I wanted to move in a little bit.”
Wozniacki, who had likened her strategic decisions in previous matches to successfully playing chess, said Sharapova made that sort of tactical play impossible with her power.
“There wasn’t time for chess,” Wozniacki laughed. New York Times Service