Rafael Nadal thwarts Sebastian Korda to win Indian Wells opener

Rafael Nadal’s never say die attitude served him well again on Saturday, as the Spaniard staged a third-set rally to beat Sebastian Korda in Indian Wells. Nadal, who staged an epic comeback after two sets against Daniil Medvedev to win his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, said the key to comebacks was simple: “keep fighting.” “Honestly, I was very lucky today,” Nadal said after trailing by two breaks in the third set en route to a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7 /3) on Korda in the WTA and ATP Masters event.

With his latest Houdini act, Nadal improved his perfect record in 2022 to 16-0.

The best start to the season of his legendary career includes not only his record triumph at the Australian Open, but also a title in Acapulco.

Nadal, currently ranked fourth in the world, said the streak was not a source of pressure.

“I would say the opposite,” he said. “The pressure is when you lose games and you have to win.

“It gives you more peace of mind… It’s been an incredible start to the year and even if I had lost today I would have gone home to a fantastic start.”

But he said he didn’t play his best against Korda, a 21-year-old rising star ranked 38th in the world.

The American led the third set 5-2 and served twice for the match. But he couldn’t conjure up a match point as Nadal clinched four games in a row as they headed for a tiebreaker.

Korda also took the upper hand in the tiebreaker, leading 3-2, but a consistent and determined Nadal claimed the final five points to wrap up victory on his first match point.

“Even though I think I’m going to lose the game, my mindset before turning this game around 5-2 is, ‘OK, I’m playing badly, I’ve had two breaks, but even though I’m going to lose, I’m will try to end the game feeling better,” Nadal said.

“So I have to fight to find those best feelings in that last game.

“I played a bit better. He made some mistakes. Then with 5-3, if you are able to salvage this game, 5-4, you never know what can happen.”

Lack of Miami

Although once on the pitch Nadal was ready to fight until the end, the often-injured 35-year-old admitted he had to be careful in setting his schedule.

To that end, his withdrawal from the upcoming Miami Masters was announced on Saturday before he even stepped onto the court for his first match at Indian Wells.

Nadal, who feared last year that his left foot injury could be so bad that he could never play again, said that no matter how far he goes in Indian Wells, the time off will allow him to rest and prepare for the clay court season.

“Everyone knows my body is the way it is, especially my foot,” said Nadal, who told reporters before the tournament that his foot “won’t be 100% recovered, ever.

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“Pain, I have excruciating pain in my foot.”

“I have to find the right balance all the time to keep going,” Nadal said. “If I try harder, it can be the end for me. Although I would love to play in Miami and I would love to play in many places, I can’t, I have to make my decisions and I need follow my body and I have to follow my priorities.”

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