Nadal in final as Del Potro stuns Djokovic
Juan Martin Del Potro handed Novak Djokovic his first defeat of the season to book his place in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Del Potro followed up his quarter-final win over Andy Murray with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over the World No 1 to seal a final showdown with Rafael Nadal. The seventh seed needed all his battling qualities to see off his illustrious opponent as he battled back from a set down, then from 3-0 down in the third.
“I was doing a very good match until the third set, but Novak had the chance to beat me when I was down 3-0,” Del Potro told www.atptour.com. “But I came back soon and that gave me a little confidence to come back in that set.
“Then also the crowd wanted to watch more tennis and (it) helped me to play my best tennis in the end. I think it was my best match in this tournament, for sure,” he added.
Murray did not break Del Potro once in his defeat, but Djokovic succeeded where the World No 3 had failed and took the first set. His opponent upped his game in the second and the backhand slice which had so troubled Murray also seemed to fox Djokovic.
Del Potro broke three times to take the second set, but still appeared to be heading out of the tournament when he fell 3-0 down in the third. The Argentinian stormed back, however, and sealed the win to end Djokovic’s 22-match winning streak with an ace.
Djokovic said: “All the credit to my opponent today. He deserved to win because he was more composed in the important moments and he played the right shots. “He stepped into the court, where, on the other side, I made a lot of unforced errors and was at the back of the court, too passive,” he added.
Nadal tames Berdych
Nadal, meanwhile, reached his fourth straight final after returning from seven months out with knee problems by beating Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5. Nadal was on top throughout but needed to win four games in a row to take the second set after double-faulting to but put his opponent 5-3 up.
Even as he served for the match, Nadal was forced to save four break points before finally prevailing. “I was very nervous at the end of the match and was lucky that my serve worked amazing in the last game in the important moments,” he told www.atptour.com.
“There are some things that you need to adjust, and victories like today help a lot for (my) confidence,” he added. Del Potro has not beaten Nadal since overcoming him in the semi-finals of the 2009 US Open, when he went on to beat Roger Federer in the final for his only grand slam victory to date.