Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Nadal battles back for Indian Wells triumph

Former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal won the Indian Wells Masters for the third time.

Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal wins Indian Wells Master by beating Juan Martin del Potro
  • The win at the California event is Nadal's third tournament win of 2013
  • The Spaniard was out for seven months between July and February
  • Nadal has won 17 matches and lost one in 2013, his best ever start to a season

Look out Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal is back -- and the numbers stacking up suggest he's better than ever.

After a seven-month injury layoff between July and February, the Spaniard has now won three titles since returning to the court following Sunday's 4-6 6-3 6-4 defeat of Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the Indian Wells Masters.

It was the 11-time grand slam winner's 600th ATP Tour win -- Federer is the only other active player to have reached that figure -- and it helped Nadal notch up a record 22nd Masters 1000 title.

The former world No. 1's triumph over Argentine Del Potro at the hard-court event also took him to 17 wins and one defeat for 2013 -- his best ever start to a season.

Read: Sharapova storms to title

"A lot of things happened in the last seven months, (so) to be back here and to have this very heavy trophy with me is amazing," the 26-year-old told the ATP Tour's official website after his third win at the event.

      Just Watched

      Becker: Ronaldo the tennis ace?

    Becker: Ronaldo the tennis ace? 02:34
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      Federer: Do more drug testing

    Federer: Do more drug testing 03:19
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      Federer targets more grand slam titles

    Federer targets more grand slam titles 03:16
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      In Krakow with the Radwanska sisters

    In Krakow with the Radwanska sisters 01:14
    PLAY VIDEO

    "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."

    However after playing 18 matches in six weeks, the new world No. 4 has pulled out of next weekend's Miami Masters, though he plans to return for April's Monte Carlo Masters, where he will bid for a ninth successive triumph at the clay court event -- the Mallorcan's favorite surface.

    Read: Bromance of tennis' "marathon men"

    "When you have one comeback like I'm having, you remember all the low things, lower moments that you had during those seven months," added Nadal.

    "Hopefully I passed and can just remember all the people that really helped me a lot during all this time."

    Del Potro had beaten third seed Murray and world No.1 Djokovic to reach the final, but conceded he couldn't match Nadal.

    "I think Rafa deserved to win," said del Potro, who has lost eight of his 11 matches with Nadal. "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."

        Tennis

      • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

        Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
      • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
      • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

        His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
      • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

        Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
      • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

        Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
      • "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
      • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

        It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
      • Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
      • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

        Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
      • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
      • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

        His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
      • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

        Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
      • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

        Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
      • "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
      • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

        It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
      • Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.