3/18/13 1:30 AM | Cheryl Murray
Rafael Nadal secured his first hard court title since 2010 with a come-from-behind victory over Juan Martin Del Potro at the BNP Paribas Open.
Rafael Nadal put in a clutch performance in the California desert to take the championship match over Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The match featured plenty of drama, with a number of momentum shifts that made it a worthy Masters final. Nadal began the match in fine form. The Spaniard played aggressive tennis and jumped on a tentative Del Potro to take an immediate service break. Nadal held a commanding 3-0 lead, but quickly lost his way, donating unforced errors to the Del Potro cause. Worse for the Nadal camp though was that Del Potro found his range on his groundstrokes.
Del Potro not only got the break back from Nadal, he secured another to take a set lead and with Nadal out-of-sorts, Del Potro carried that momentum into the second set.
The Argentine secured another break of the Nadal serve at the beginning of the second set and hope for the title seemed to dwindle for Nadal. Nadal got to deuce on Del Potro's service game at 1-0, but the Argentine held to consolidate the break.
With a straight sets defeat looming, Nadal dialed in with Del Potro serving for a 4-2 lead. The No. 7 seed donated a terribly timed double-fault and an unforced error to give Nadal a pair of break points. He saved the first, but sent a backhand long to give up his lead.
Just that quickly, momentum swung back to Nadal's end of the court. Del Potro served to keep the match level at 4-4, but another disastrous double fault and a pair of massive forehands from the world No. 5 set up more chances for an increasingly confident Nadal. Nadal spanked a forehand winner to convert the break point and earned himself the chance to serve out the set.
Nadal earned a couple of break points straight off in Del Potro's first service game of the third set, but the Argentine scraped out the hold. The success was short-lived, however. At 1-1, with Del Potro's energy seeming to flag a bit, Nadal earned another chance to take the lead, which he snagged with a whipping forehand winner.
Del Potro spent the rest of the match trying to play catch-up. The Argentine got in a 0-40 hole at 3-5, but once again clawed his way to a hold. Still, it was simply putting off the inevitable. Nadal captured the title on a wide forehand from Del Potro and fell to the court, jubilant at his victory.
Nadal announced that he will skip the Miami Masters and head instead back to Europe to await the clay-court season.
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