Indian Wells 2013 recap part 3: Nadal beats Del Potro

This is a guest post by Ruari Grant. This post was also published on the AndBeThere blog. You can connect to us via:

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As always, I would like to thanks Tennis-Buzz.

All the best players in the world came to Indian Wells for the first Masters 1000 tournament of the year, and over the last couple of days it all came to a head with some of the most spectacular matches of the season. You can read here about how the four semi-finallists made it to that stage, namely Nadal cruising past Federer in the quarters. 

Indian Wells Final – Nadal Beats Del Potro

Well this perhaps wasn’t the final we were expecting – being Nadal‘s first hard court tournament in a year and with Djokovic in Delpo’s half of the draw, it wasn’t all that likely, but they were clearly the two best players this week. Nadal came out with all guns blazing, racing out to a 3-0 lead; but Del Potro would then take control, winning 9 of the next 11 games, using those huge groundies to devastating effect. Despite taking a 3-1 lead in the second and demonstrating incredible feel around the net on several occasions, he would start to flag just as Nadal’s level moved up a gear. The Spaniard wouldn’t look back, dominating the rallies from then on, and eventually coming out a 4-6 6-4 6-3 winner, falling to the ground more than once in disbelief at this incredible achievement. 

This is the third time he’s taken the title in Indian Wells, but is saying that this is one of the best victories of his career. Indeed few would’ve forecast this win given his lack of match practice on this surface and the quality of the opposition. He was particularly pleased with his movement, having said previously that some days it’s good and some bad. He will now miss next week’s Miami Masters to go home and recuperate ahead of what is looking like it could be a very successful European clay court season. It’s also worth noting that this win was significant for a number of other reasons. It marked his 600th tour match win, it was a record 22nd masters title, and he will now move back to number 4 in the rankings, restoring the ‘big four’ in the top four spots.

As for Del Potro, his highlight of the week was obviously the back to back wins against Murray and Djokovic. Despite losing to Nadal in the final, this was a big break for him and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win a masters tournament in the near future, as well as move up perhaps even breaking into the top four in the rankings.

Indian Wells Semis Roundup

Nadal beats Berdych

The first semi saw Nadal continue his incredible comeback against Berdych. I thought that the Czech player might potentially score a big win here – he’s about due a win over the Spaniard, and has been well on top of his game of late. However Nadal demonstrated just how tough he is, and came through 6-4 7-5. Berdych actually served for the second set, however he just couldn’t find his first serve and got broken back. From that point he wouldn’t win another point, with Nadal’s agressive tennis proving too much. 

Obviously the Spaniard was delighted to make the final, stating that it was more than he could’ve hoped for; personally I think the win over Berdych was pretty important, as he has the kind of game – flat hard power that can be dangerous to Nadal if he’s not careful. Berdych was clearly disappointed afterwards – though semis in a masters is still a solid result he said that he’s really looking to push on in these tournaments, and he does need to start beating the top 4 a bit more often. We shall see what next week in Miami holds…

Del Potro beats Djokovic

Perhaps the best match of the tournament was also the biggest upset of the year. Delpo ended the world number one’s 22 match winning streak here in the semis, coming back with a 4-6 6-4 6-4 win. In the first set Djokovic proved to be marginally too strong, eventually managing the decisive break in the tenth game after piling on the pressure. However he needed to use every facet of his all-court game to come through it, and from that moment on it would be Delpo demonstrating his variety. 

We’re not really used to seeing sloppiness from the Serb but he lost his serve in the first game of the second. Though he broke straight back, that famously huge Argentine forehand would then come into play and Del Potro began to dominate. Despite the odd moment of brilliance from the Djokovic backhand, he wouldn’t look back, hanging on to take the set. 

The momentum would change again though, with Djokovic fighting as he always does, and taking a 3-0 lead in the decider. He couldn’t hang on to it though and once the Argentine broke back and his forehand started firing again, he took control and Djokovic had no answer as the match eventually slipped away from him. 

For me, this is Delpo’s best win since the 2009 US Open. In fact I’d say his game is better now than it was then – he’s added some good variety with that slice backhand; he kind of needed to given the wrist trouble on the two-hander, but it’s given him a host of new options. Anyway, Djokovic has been so dominant recently, and beat him fairly comfortably in Dubai only a couple of weeks ago, so this really is impressive. Hopefully it’s the start of some great things this season for him – with that bad wrist he’s been waiting long enough! Djokovic for his part was gracious as always in defeat, congratulating Delpo, and stating quite frankly that he didn’t deserve this one!

Well as always, Indian Wells has provided us with a top week of tennis. I personally can’t wait for Miami next week, and I’m expecting more good stuff from Berdych and Delpo. Without Nadal and Federer in the draw, it’s a real chance for others to move deep into a big tournament, and these two really seem to be the closest challengers to the big 4 at the moment. It could however provide the launchpad for someone else to break through! We shall have to wait and see…

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