Statement Made: Nadal Returns To Form, Beats Del Potro In Three To Take Third Indian Wells Title
by Staff | March 18th, 2013, 12:06 am

Rafael Nadal stormed to his biggest title since the French Open today dismissing Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win a third Indian Wells title. The Spaniard who many thought wouldn’t even attend event to avoid further damage his frail knees, was playing in his first hardcourt event in some 50 weeks, yet hardly showed any real rust en route to winning on his worst surface.

“A lot of things happened the last seven months, to be back here and to have this very heavy trophy with me is amazing,” said Nadal who’s now won 13 straight over Top 10 players. “Beating three Top 10 players and winning a title like this is just something unbelievable for me. I’m very, very happy and very emotional.”

Nadal blizted Ryan Harrison in his opener a week ago. Then evaded a hot-handed Ernests Gulbis Wednesday night before easily dispatching a wounded Roger Federer 24 hours later.

This weekend, Nadal displayed his toughness ousting an in-form Tomas Berdych yesterday and then today, down a set and a break to Del Potro, Rafa fought through the big-slugging Argentine to claim his 22nd career Masters title, 53rd of his career and his first on the hardcourt since Tokyo in October of 2010. The win also marked the 600th of his career.

If Rafa wanted to send the message that he was back, well, he just did. (Novak Djokovic, you are on alert for the clay season!)

“When you have one comeback like I’m having, you remember all the low things, lower moments that you had during the seven months,” Nadal said. “Hopefully I passed and can just remember all the people that really helped me a lot during all this time.”

Del Potro, who played well all week, came up just short of pulling off an incredible triple – beating three of the big four in consecutive days. Del Potro, who had beaten Nadal on three previous occasions, began slow, almost in a sleepwalk haze falling behind 0-3, but then rattled off nine of the next 11 games to lead with a break 3-1 in the second. But, somehow, Nadal found his footing and broke the Argentine twice to take the second and grab momentum for good.

“I think Rafa deserved to win,” said Del Potro who was seeking his first career Masters title. “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.”

After the match Nadal officially announced that he will skip the Miami masters, joining friend Roger Federer among those not playing in the prestigious South Florida event, a title Nadal has never won.

The win will move Nadal back into the Top 4 but with so many points to defend during the clay season it’s unlikely he will push any higher before the French Open.

Nadal is 17-1 on the season and his three titles are best among all players.

Rafa’s last match of 2012 came at Wimbledon where he was stunned by Lukas Rosol in the second round. With his left knee healing, Nadal hoped to play at the start of the season at the Australian Open but those hopes were dashed by an odd stomach ailment. As doubts of his return grew, Nadal sped up him comeback playing Vina Del Mar but then suffered a shocking loss to Horacia Zeballos.

Since then, though, the former No. 1 has won 14 straight matches and is arguably the hottest player in tennis right now. The Man from Mallorca is back.

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54 Comments for Statement Made: Nadal Returns To Form, Beats Del Potro In Three To Take Third Indian Wells Title

andrea Says:

nice win. he really came back strong after he broke back in the 2nd set.

courbon Says:

Congratulations to all Nadals fans!

Eric Says:

I guess now we know why Rafa took so long to make his recovery and return to tour. Hot damn. Nice to have him back!

Nirmal Kumar Says:

This match is one of the reasons why Nadal is so good to watch for a tennis fan. Whoever fan you are, as long as you don’t hate Nadal, this guy is just phenomenal to watch as a tennis player. The way he problem solves his opponent during the match and takes control of match is so amazing. This guy is definitely one of the greatest match players for sure along with Novak.

I just hope his health is good atleast for next 3-4 years. We may witness some of the best tennis ever played in history by him and Novak in the near future.

nadalista Says:

Rafa is now #2 in the Race to London rankings, 1000 points behind Novak.

rafaeli Says:

Rafa is the true #1.

Margot Says:

NK @ 2.52 a.m
Excellent post and I totally agree. Just watching Rafa change his baseline position, and thus start winning, was enthralling.
And that forehand, as the match progressed, just seemed to take on a life of its own, like a blooming rocket- awesome as the yanks say.

nadalista Says:

Seems to me picking a PokerStars sponsorship was a strategic master piece by Rafa. During a match, he does his own version of keeping a poker face. His opponents can’t see the new strategy unfolding until it’s too late!

Giles Says:
Excellent piece by Steve Tignor.

Michael Says:

My hearty congratulations to Nadal and his legion of fans for this stupendous victory in a major hard court Masters. Coming as he did especially after a long lay off, it is a dream come true for him. I do not think anybody would have fancied him to win this one. I thought even his coming to a Semi-final would be a big achievement, but he made two better. Although by the mix of draws, he didn’t have the opportunity to meet either Novak or Murray on the way, that cannot by any measure diminish his achievement. But, Nadal is always comfortable against any player in the finals except Novak.

Michael Says:

As regards Del Potro, his first hard court Masters title is still eluding him. For this Tandil Giant, who won the US Open beating Nadal and Federer back to back, Indian Wells was even more demanding. But he faltered in the final push despite leading by a set and a break. Del Potro was actually dominating the match for about one and half sets. All credit to Rafa for taking the match to him. He didn’t lie down even after Del Potro was hitting corners with his bludgeoning forehand. He just changed the momentum and equation by his combination of aggression and solid defence. For Del Potro, he has to find another day. I am sure he will !!

alison Says:

Michael Rafa won the IW title fair and square,he beat Federer,Berdych and Delpo 3 top 10 players,it doesnt make his title any less legit because he didnt face Novak/Andy in the final,niether of them were good enough to make the final,but Rafa was end of story.

alison Says:

^Incidentally he beat Novak 3 times in a row last season,or does that not count because it was on clay?^

alison Says:

Another thing Delpo was dominating but Rafa missed a shed load of break points,Delpo took his chances 3/3 Rafa took 3/18.

Paradox Says:

What a great comeback!.Tennis needs Nadal at his highest level without any injuries for at least next 4-5 years.He transcends tennis.It could elevate tennis to even higher is lucky to have him back

Lulu Iberica Says:

Wow! I’m so surprised and happy for Rafa! I ate bad Chinese food last night and had to clean a very messy kitchen, but I stayed in such a great mood because Rafa WON!!! Delpo really was dominating and I thought “Well, it’s a great achievement Rafa made it to the final.” Rafa had more fight in him, though! I would say he wasn’t even at his best, so I can’t wait to see what he’ll be able to do by the clay season. JMDP deserves a big ovation too, for what he was able to do in getting to the final. If he’d been playing anyone else I would’ve loved to see him win.

alison Says:

^Agree Delpo has also had an amazing week,taking out Andy/Novak was a fantastic achievement,it looks like he has regained that 2009 form that won him the USO,i like the guy very much and hope this translates into the rest of the season,although i still worry about his fitness level,he seems to get quite breathless even in best of 3 set matches,still early days though but with both Rafa and JMDP getting back to their bests it makes the rest of the year very interesting in terms of competition.

nadalista Says:

RT @TheBorisBecker: “Glory is calling you my friend!! Welcome back!! BB”

Roger Federer Fan Says:

“^Incidentally he beat Novak 3 times in a row last season,or does that not count because it was on clay?^”

Obviously. Clay is not a legitmate surface.

Michael Says:


To make it very clear. Nadal cannot be denied the glory he truly deserves. Just because he didn’t meet Novak or Andy doesn’t diminish his achievement and that is exactly what I stated. As you say, they were not good enough to reach the closing stage. Matter ends.

As regards Rafa beating Novak three times last year on Clay, well that really counts because Clay is the natural Tennis surface although hard courts have become dominant of late. But due to the 11-5 advantage against Rafa on hard courts, I thought Novak would have posed a greater threat than Del Potro had he reaches the finals. It is just an opinion which has no value considering that Novak was not good enough to reach that stage and so Rafa is truly the deserving winner. Nodoubts about it. It is a phenomenal achievement beating Roger, Berdych and Del Potro and that too after that long lay off. My hats off to this guy named Nadal. He has proved again as to why he is an All time Great. In my rating list, I place Nadal second to Roger in the Professional era.

Michael Says:


About those 18 break points Nadal had, well that proves as to who was dominating the match. Although Del Potro had just about four break points, he had a better conversion rate. That is Tennis. What I extremely like about the way Nadal approached this game was that he was not cowed down by the Del Potro onslaught with his devastating forehand. He was leading by a set and a break and yet Nadal just came back to haunt him. That shows the resilience of this player and proves yet again as to what a great fighter he is. Now that he has won Indian Wells, I think Rafa is all set to become No.2 very soon.

alison Says:

OK Michael,as for the no2 ranking i dont know,time will tell i suppose.

Michael Says:

Alison, He is already No.2 on the road to World Tour Finals.

Brando Says:

@Margot, NK, Courbon and Michael:

Thanks for the genuine praise of Rafa. :-)

Good luck to your fav’s also going forward- I expect MIAMI to be a hotly contested tourny with some brilliant tennis.

Cannot wait for it!

Brando Says:

@Alison and Lulu:

AWESOME to see you guy’s posting here. Glad that you saw Rafa playing some amazing gladiatorial tennis- vintage Rafa stuff for sure!

Long may it continue!


rafaeli Says:

Apart from beating the guy who beat Andy and Novak, Nadal does not have to justify himself against players he dominates most of the time. He virtually owns the top 10 h2h and I guess not a single one of the top 4 would volunteer to meet him in the Qtrs on any surface.

Colin Says:

Marvellous performance, and it’s great to see him back.

BUT, his fans must not heap unreasonable expectations on him, and talk of him playing top class tennis for four or five years. We have been used over the last few seasons, to seeing him do well at the start,dominate the clay season, and then be jaded by the late events. On a couple of occasions, he has been hit by injury as early as the Australian Open, once even retiring from a match, which was startling, for Rafa.

His great start to 2013 comes after a very long break. Does anyone think he’ll get through to the USO and the World Tour Finals in pristine physical condition? It’ll be nothing short of a miracle if that happens.

So, as I said, it’s great to see him back, but don’t expect the impossible. HE doesn’t, does he?

Fleischer Says:

Personally I am not expecting too much from Rafa.

I will be happy with just the FO this year. If he somehow takes Wimbledon I will be extremely delighted. Then I would be even more delighted if he takes an injury timeout after wimby and comes back for Vina Del Mar 2014. Hell with HC…he doesnt have anything to prove there…..too risky for his career. I would be satisfied with 3 or 4 more FOs. 1 or 2 more Wimbledons will just seal the deal over the GOAT debate.

Brando Says:


Fair and wise post.

I think Rafa nor his fans are casting any unreasonable expectation’s going forward.

Personally, I am just glad he is back playing the game. Period.

And i think that is what HE and his fan are just glad about.

Expectations going forward?

NONE from myself.

Hope or wish?

That he does well in the clay swing this year.

I think that is the ONLY wish he and his fans have going forward.

That’s it!

Post clay?

ONLY good health and fitness is what I, most fans and i think Rafa HIMSELF wish for.

juljo724 Says:

Found this quote from Roger about Rafa:
“He’s not going to come back if he’s not well,” the 31-year-old Swiss said. “He’s not going to come back half broken. I expected him to tear through the clay. I expected him to be tough here.”

the DA Says:

The Miami draw is underway. Nole and Andy top 2 seeds.

R2 matches: Nole vs Rosol, Andy vs Tomic. Andy’s route will be quite challenging with potential clashes with Dimitrov, Janowicz, Tsonga/Cilic (QF) and then Berdy or Gasquet (SF). Nole has Ferrer as possible SF opponent so I’m guessing a possible QF with Delpo. Details still emerging.

Humble Rafa Says:

You see what you were missing for 7 months. Raw talent on show. #humbleness has its limits#

nadalista Says:

“He was not supposed to win this tournament, the first of the nine ATP 1000 Masters, nor did he expect to. He had not won a hard-court event since October 2010; and this was Federer’s domain, as well as Djokovic’s, thousands of miles away from Nadal’s European clay. Yet his growling surge after dropping the first set against Del Potro bore all the hallmarks of Nadal at his most imperious: the wicked top-spin, ratcheted through iron wrists on his forehand, the ability to hit deep, shot after shot, then fiercely on the angle, draining the tall Argentinian’s legs to the point of impotence. At the end Del Potro, who has been in excellent form and put out Djokovic in the semi-finals, was a resigned wreck.”

Huh Says:

wow nadal!

CONGRATS DEAR ALISON, BRANDO n other nadalites on this superb win! enjoy!

king rafa is back to give company of emperor federer!!! GLORIOUS!!! :D

Huh Says:

in previos post, i meant 2 giv “company to” n not “company off”. ;)

Huh Says:

“For Del Potro, he has to find another day. I am sure he will !!”

wel said michael!

n btw, these days, nothing gives me mor pleasur than seein nole getting bounced by somebody in the HCs. novak seriously needs be fed som humbl pie on the HCs. it was even mor fun that the humbl jmdp(whom i like most after fed n muzz, did the job!) beat him! :D

jmdp is not goin anywher, he’s here to stay n wil soon win his 2nd slam imo. and rafa??? nobody doubt the king rafa and the emperor roger, EVER! :D

Huh Says:

everybody still makes way for the fedal!

Huh Says:

if fed cant win FO in 2013(highly likely), then i’d lov to see rafa winning 2013 FO over nole. ;)

Huh Says:

n frankly i’dlov 2 c fed steal a clay MS, just lik nadal stole a HC one! ;)

Brando Says:

@ Huh: Thanks huh- great to see you back posting. I expect your fav fed also to return with a bang. Still think the GOAT has a surprise or 2 up his sleeve that he’ll share with those who are righting him off wrongly- just like they were with Rafa.

alison Says:

Brando thanks for that post,and BTW congratulations am i right in thinking you actually won the bracket challenge too?

alison Says:

Huh thanks for those sweet words,and great to see you posting again.

courbon Says:

This is funny…
When Novak wins AO or Dubai, everybody says he will destroy everybody this year.
Now Rafa wins tournament- he will be destroying everybody…
Can we make our minds?
Ah, yes-I forgot.There is many Nostradamus like caracters on this blog that can predict.Silly me…
I thought Jamie is only one!

courbon Says:

@Alison and Brando:What a present you got after 7 months!Its nice to see him back

Michael Says:


Rafa has made his fans proud once again by his phenomenal effort. He is now the Leader in accumulating Masters title and I see no one surpassing this feat since Rafa may go on to win Montecarlo, Rome too this year unless some surprise happens over there which is a remote possibility. I see no one posing him a threat over there except Novak. What an achievement at just 26 !! It is truly vintage effort.

Huh : Thanks !! What is attractive towards Del Potro is the way he plays his game with such delicate ease. If only he is physically fit, I am sure he will go places in the times to come.

Steve 27 Says:

Nadal is tied with Lendl (Masters shields) with 22. Will be Montecarlo his 23?

alison Says:

Courbon thankyou i was pleasantly surprised,i didnt see that one coming at all TBH,anyway onto Miami Rafas not playing,and im glad common sense prevailed,as i wouldnt want him to undo all the hard work hes put in these last few weeks,im feeling Nole will win this one,although i would love it to be Murray,but i think Novak will want to bounce right back and prove a point,especially if he faces Delpo again,as for Delpo i hope he can carry that momentum going into Miami,as it was fantastic seeing him playing so well again,anyway whatever happens hope its a great week.

alison Says:

Steve 27 hope your right.

Huh Says:

hopefully it’ll be either muzz or jmdp winning miami, thou head says nole.

nadalista Says:

“There are few certainties in the sports world: gold medals for Usain Bolt, a few good upsets in the NCAA tournament, endless discussion of all things Tim Tebow. And Rafael Nadal winning the French Open as long as he’s healthy.”

Read more:

Giles Says:
Rafa fans. TV schedule for Rafa’s recent interview with CNN.

lovetennis Says:

Congrats to all tennis fans! We all benefit from having Nadal back. Great article! Fab tennis!

nadalista Says:

Bruse Jenkins at agrees with Rafa’s take on how the time violation rule should be enforced i.e. let Umpires have the discretion.

Mohamed Laryani did not enforce the rule (quite rightly, in my opinion) during the Novak-Delpo semi at IW 2013, which was played during very hot and humid conditions, and both Novak and Delpo repeatedly broke the rule! So, is the ATP going to sanction Layhani for not enforcing the rule? Nonsense.

moam Says:

Unbelievable! Rafa is just unbelievable. I fully expected it to take several months for him even approach top form. I was dead wrong.

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