Rafael Nadal came from behind to defeat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
Playing his first hard-court tournament since a seven-month layoff due to injury, Nadal looked to be in great form throughout his time in the desert sun, and showed himself to have definitely recovered from any knee ailments with a strong performance.
The Spaniard had defeated both Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych in straight sets to reach Sunday's final, and despite dropping the opening set to del Potro, he was able to keep his composure and record a huge comeback win.
Nadal broke del Potro in the opening game of the match to lead 2-0, and quickly raced to a 3-0 lead over his opponent. The No. 5 seed even had del Potro down 0-30 in that fourth game, but the Argentinian was able to recover and get on the board.
Del Potro would break Nadal in the next game to get back on serve as well, and from there, it was all the Argentinian international, showing the form that had led him to big wins over Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
He would quickly find his rhythm against the Spanish star's dominant backhand. He was taking advantage of anything short and whipping it away for a winner to effectively take control of the set.
In exciting fashion, he would then break Nadal once more to take the first set 6-4, rattling off six of the last seven games to set up a commanding lead. Del Potro would continue in similar fashion in the second set, breaking Nadal in the opening game of that as well.
And then came another streak, with Nadal turning the aggressor.
Streaky match, this. 3 straight games for Nadal, then 9 of 11 to del Potro, and now 4 straight for Nadal. Rafa up 5-3 in second. #bnppo13— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 17, 2013
He rattled off five straight games to take the second set 6-3 and level the match at one set all. After a somewhat nervy start, Nadal was able to pick up a break over the Argentinian midway through the third set, and quickly capitalized to hold a 4-2 lead.
This would be the part of the match when Rafael Nadal reminds you you don't have the legs to beat him. Brutal. #BNPPO13— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 17, 2013
Del Potro would hold serve throughout his remaining two service games, but it would not be enough to stop Nadal. The Spaniard too would hold serve throughout the rest of the match—claiming the final set 6-4—to record a huge tournament victory and end any speculation about his knee and form.
The loss will no doubt come as a frustrating end to a strong tournament from del Potro, who played very well to make it to the Indian Wells final.
Having beat two of the top three players in the world in Djokovic and Murray to make the final, the Argentinian would have loved to finish off the event with another tour victory in 2013.
Alas, it was not to be, as the soon-to-be world No. 4 Nadal seemingly announced his successful return from injury and that he was a genuine threat once more.
Rafael Nadal wins his first hard court title since October 2010, beating del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. This one may be sweetest of all. #bnppo13— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 17, 2013
You simply cannot ask for more than that from Nadal, who will no doubt be the man to catch once more at the upcoming 2013 French Open.
The ATP tour moves to Miami next week for another 1000 event.
What did you make of Rafael Nadal's stunning win over Juan Martin del Potro?