Nadal Defeats Del Potro for BNP Paribas Open Title

by John on March 18, 2013

Rafa IW 2013

Rafael Nadal rallied from a set and 1-3 down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open final yesterday, while claiming his record-breaking 22nd ATP Masters title. Nadal is off to the best start of his career, posting a 17-1 record and winning three of four tournaments since his return to the tour in February. Rafa was out seven months due to a knee injury. The fifth-seeded Spaniard had lost his last six hard-court finals dating back to October 2010 when he won at Tokyo. “It’s probably one of the most emotional victories of my career,” Nadal said. “The support since I came back has been huge. It’s an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament.” The win was the 600th of Nadal’s career and bumps him up one spot to No. 4 in today’s updated ATP Rankings. Del Potro, No. 7 in the world, was bidding to knock off three Top 5 players back-to-back-to-back, having defeated Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semis. Perhaps feeling the effects of his two long matches with Murray and Djokovic, Del Potro fell behind 3-0 at the outset, dropping serve in the second game after saving three break points. From there the 24-year-old Argentine righted course and won eight of the next nine games to take a 2-0 lead in the second set. Playing with power and precision, Del Potro looked like a lock to pull off the Top 5 trifecta. Nadal ended the onslought, though, with breaks in the sixth and eighth games to take the set and even things up at one set all. Del Potro saved three more break points in the first game of the third set to hold, but clearly had lost his mojo. Nadal got the deciding break in the third game and was virtually invincible the rest of the way. The Spaniard won 87 percent of his service points in the third set. “I think Rafa deserved to win,” Del Potro said. “The last hour of the match, he played so solid and put me so far [from] the baseline and made winners. But I think I [had] a good tournament anyway, and Rafa played really well today in the second and third sets. He broke me early in the third. Playing against him when the score is down is tougher. I was fighting all the time but he won in the end.” Del Potro saved 14 of 18 break points, while Nadal saved none but only faced three. Rafa improved to 8-3 against the big Argentine.

 

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