BNP Paribas Open: Rafael Nadal sets record by winning 22nd ATP Masters title
Last Updated: 18/03/13 6:53pm
Rafael Nadal lifted his first hardcourt title since 2010 after outlasting Juan Martin Del Potro in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells.
The left-hander, still troubled by the knee problems that sidelined him for seven months last year, overcame the loss of the first set to clinch a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory in a pulsating encounter.
The Spaniard had already won twice in three final appearances since returning to action, and he made a fast start in his bid for a third Indian Wells crown when he raced into a 3-0 lead.
But the big-hitting Argentine, who ousted Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on his way to the final, reeled off eight of the next nine games to take the opening set and go 2-0 up in the second.
However, Nadal dug in and broke serve twice as he won five games without reply to take the match to a decider.
Nadal converted his fourth break-point in game three and frustrated the seventh seed with some magnificent defence while holding firm on his own serve.
Del Potro gallantly saved three match points on serve at 5-3 to force his opponent to serve it out, but Nadal was up to the task as he wrapped up a record 22nd ATP Masters title - passing Roger Federer's haul of 21.
"It's probably one of the most emotional victories of my career," said Nadal, who has pulled out of next week's Masters event in Miami to protect his suspect knees.
"The support since I came back has been huge. It's an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament.
"I started the match playing fantastic, then Del Potro started playing a little more aggressive. In my opinion, I tried to change too early against his forehand.
"I was too aggressive. When I was able to calm myself, I began to play better and a bit slower. My movement was unbelievable and I played a fantastic match."