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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the BNP Paribas Open tennis final in Indian Wells, California, yesterday. RIGHT: Nadal of Spain poses with the trophy.
INDIAN WELLS, California: Rafa Nadal added another triumphant chapter to his remarkable comeback story by beating Juan Martin Del Potro in the BNP Paribas Open final yesterday to win his third title of the year.
The Spanish left-hander was sidelined for seven months last year with a left knee injury but has been in stunning form since he returned, reaching four straight finals and compiling a 17-1 record to start the year.
Nadal had to come from a set and 1-3 down to beat Argentine Del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-4 and take his 22nd ATP Masters title and a third at Indian Wells.
“I’m very, very happy and very emotional,” said 11-times grand slam champion Nadal, who flopped to the ground, flat on his back, shaking his fists in celebration after sealing the win over Del Potro.
“A lot of things happened the last seven months, to be back here and to have this very heavy trophy with me is amazing, no? It’s impossible to have a better comeback, no? Happy for everything.
“Beating three top-10s, three very important players, to win a title like this is just something unbelievable for me,” added the Spaniard, who beat second-ranked Roger Federer in the quarter-finals and sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych in the last four.
It was Nadal’s 53rd ATP singles title and his first on a hardcourt surface since Tokyo in 2010.
The Argentine survived three breaks points before holding serve in an energy-sapping first game in the final set but he failed to hold in the third as the Spaniard crunched a forehand winner down the line to lead 2-1.
There was no way back for Del Potro, who had upset world number three Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the last four.
He saved three match points after going 0-40 down on serve in the ninth before holding, but Nadal served out for victory in the 10th, needing only one more match point to add a third Indian Wells title to his previous wins in 2007 and 2009.
The Spaniard, who had his left knee taped up throughout the tournament, edged one ahead of Federer with his record 22nd ATP Masters title. It was also the 600th match win of his career.