Comeback maestro Nadal wins third Indian Wells title
Updated: 2013-03-18 09:51
INDIAN WELLS, California - Rafa Nadal added another triumphant chapter to his remarkable comeback when he came from a set and 0-2 down to beat Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday.
The Spanish left-hander, who was sidelined for seven months last year with a left knee injury, overcame a gritty challenge from the hard-hitting Argentine to win a record 22nd ATP Masters title, and a third at Indian Wells.
Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with his trophy after he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the men's singles final match to win the BNP Paribas Open ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 17, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Fifth seed Nadal broke Del Potro in the third game of the final set and, after his opponent had saved three match points in the ninth, served out to seal victory after an absorbing final that lasted two hours 29 minutes.
The match ended with a mistimed forehand from the seventh-seeded Del Potro which floated wide and the Spaniard immediately dropped to the ground, flat on his back, while shaking his fists in celebration.
"I started the match playing fantastic, then Del Potro started playing a little more aggressive," 11-times Grand Slam champion Nadal, who moved fluently during the match, said courtside after hugging his opponent at the net.
"In my opinion, I tried to change too early against his forehand. I was playing much too aggressive for my game. When I was able to calm myself, I began to play better. I started to play a little bit slower. My movement was unbelievable.
"Then I play a fantastic match," added the Spaniard, who had his left knee taped up throughout the tournament.
It was Nadal's 53rd ATP singles title, his third of the year after appearing in four successive finals, and his first on a hardcourt surface since Tokyo in 2010.
The Spaniard made an impressive start, holding serve after a marathon first game where he controlled a series of protracted baseline rallies, then breaking Del Potro in the second, though it took him four break points.
The Argentine was again in trouble on serve in the fourth, serving at 15-40 down, but he saved two break points before holding with a booming forehand winner down the line.