Live Commentary: Indian Wells Masters final: Juan Martin del Potro vs. Rafael Nadal - as it happened

Live Commentary: Indian Wells Masters final: Del Potro vs. Nadal - as it happened
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Sports Mole brings you live coverage of the Indian Wells Masters final between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.

Rafael Nadal stepped onto court in Indian Wells hoping to show the world that he was back to his best after over seven months out with a knee injury.

Stood in his way was Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, who had ended the hopes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament.

Del Potro looked on course to wrap up his first Masters Series title after taking the first set, but Nadal fought back to earn a thrilling three-set victory.

Read below to see how the action unfolded.

8.43pmGood evening everyone, and welcome to Sports Mole coverage of the Indian Wells Masters final between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.

8.46pmA showdown between Nadal and Del Potro is one that few would have expected when the draw was made, but there is no doubting that both players deserve their place in the final.

8.51pmFirstly, let's look back at the performances of Nadal. The Spanish left-hander only recently returned from a knee injury, experiencing just two tournaments on clay since his comeback. There were doubts as to whether the 26-year-old's knee would hold up on the American hard courts, but he has flown through his matches with flying colours.

8.55pmNadal has had to come through several tough encounters. At the last-16 stage, he had to dig deep to see off the challenge of Ernest Gulbis in three sets to set up a quarter-final match with Roger Federer. The Swiss player struggled with his movement throughout, and Nadal took advantage to win in straight sets. Czech player Tomas Berdych provided stiffer opposition in the last-four, but Nadal powered through to make today's final.

9.00pmAs for Del Potro, it has been a long road back since he suffered a wrist injury a couple of years ago. He has slowly, but surely, made his way back up the world rankings and aside from picking up a bronze medal at the Olympics, tonight represents his first opportunity to win a title that can see him move a step closer to moving back alongside the world's top four players.

9.05pmWin or lose this evening, Del Potro's results this week have sent a clear message to his rivals that he is approaching a return to his best. The former US Open champion beat Nikolay Davydenko and Tommy Haas in the early stages of the competition, before he came from a set behind to defeat Andy Murray in the quarter-finals. It was a similar story in his semi-final tie with Novak Djokovic, as he eventually prevailed 6-4 in the deciding set.

9.10pmNadal and Del Potro have faced each other as many as 10 times on the ATP Tour, with the Spaniard coming out on top in seven of those matches. Of those 10 matches, six have been played on hard courts, with both players winning three apiece, so that leaves things finely poised this evening.

9.12pmThe last time they met on a hard court was at this tournament two years ago, when Nadal came out on top by a 6-4 6-4 scoreline.

9.15pmThe two players have just walked onto court, and I would imagine that we will be underway in just a couple of minutes. The sun is out and the stadium is packed. I think we are ready to go.

9.16pmThe players are ready. Rafael Nadal will serve first...

Del Potro 0-1* NadalNadal moves to 30-0 after Del Potro goes marginally wide with two backhands, but a couple of errors from his opponent let him back in at 30-30. The world number five nets a forehand from the back of the court and we are at deuce. Both players step it up a notch on the next point, and after a lengthy rally, Del Potro hits the ball wide, before Nadal seals the opening game when the Argentinean goes long.

Del Potro *0-2 NadalDel Potro has been impressive on serve throughout the week, but he soon finds himself at 15-30. Nadal goes long with a forehand, but he creates the first break point of the final after forcing Del Potro onto the back foot. Nadal goes long once more, but a booming forehand down the line creates a second opportunity to break serve, but again, he goes long. It's the South American's turn to go long, and Nadal has a third chance, but a deep second serve forces the error. However, you get the feeling that Nadal is warming to this final already, and he sends two massive forehands past Del Potro to earn the break.

Del Potro 0-3* NadalA double fault gives Del Potro an early advantage in Nadal's second service game, but the former world number one soon regains the initiative by advancing to 40-15. Del Potro has certainly played aggressively in the past five minutes, and while it pays off to get him to 40-30, Nadal forces him to net from out wide to extend his lead to 3-0.

Del Potro *1-3 NadalThere is already a one-sided feel beginning to form in this final, and a double fault from Del Potro hands Nadal two more break points. However, Del Potro responds with an ace, before Nadal nets to take the game to deuce. The world number seven hasn't relented on the power of his forehands, and he uses them to good effect to record his first game of the final.

Del Potro 2-3* NadalWe have been treated to a mix of some good and bad tennis so far in this final, and that continues as Del Potro sends the ball behind Nadal to take the score to 30-30. Nadal prevails from a lengthy rally after Del Potro goes wide, but the Spaniard then nets to take it to deuce. Some punishing shots from Del Potro bring up his first break point, and a simply ridiculous cross-court forehand off a return sees the match back on serve.

Del Potro *3-3 NadalDel Potro is full of confidence right now, and he races into a 30-0 lead. Nadal pulls a point back, but Del Potro takes the next two to draw level at 3-3.

Del Potro 3-4* NadalNadal recognises that he needs to regain some sort of authority, and a perfectly-directed cross-court forehand takes him to 30-0. Del Potro then goes wide with a forehand of his own from the baseline, and he seals a love game when the ball clipped the back of the line.

Del Potro *4-4 NadalThe rallies have become significantly shorter in the past few games. Maybe that is a sign of both players improving on serve, or whether the heat is already playing a factor. Either way, Del Potro wraps up another quick service game with his second ace of the match.

Del Potro 5-4* NadalSome stupendous defensive skills are displayed by Nadal in the second point of the game, but Del Potro's power is too much and he moves to 0-30. A smash gets a point back for Nadal, but Del Potro brings up two break points with another flat forehand that proved too much for his opponent. The break is sealed when Nadal goes a few feet long with a looping forehand, and Del Potro will serve for the set.

Del Potro *6-4 NadalSET! Del Potro wins the first point with a forehand winner, and after Nadal nets, the Argentinian is two points away from the set. There is simply no let-up on Del Potro's forehand at the moment, and he brings up three set points after another winner. Nadal responds in kind with one of his own, and a stunning get from the left-hander leads to 40-30. But what a point to clinch the set! Nadal looks on course to make it to deuce with a passing shot, but a backhand volley on the stretch from Del Potro earns him the set!

Del Potro 6-4 1-0* NadalThere were a few errors to begin with, but we were treated to something special in those closing two games. It will be interesting to see how Nadal responds after he had held a 3-0 lead. The signs don't look good as he falls to 0-30, but he reduces arrears with a baseline winner. However, Del Potro is riding a crest of a wave, and he whips a fantastic cross-court winner from the back of the court for two break points, and when Nadal nets weakly, Del Potro seizes control with the opening game of the second set.

Del Potro *6-4 2-0 NadalYou get the feeling that the title is there for the taking for Del Potro, but a couple of errors see the score locked at 30-30. The South American then goes long with a forehand to bring up a break point for Nadal, but that fails to knock his confidence as he responds with another winner from that side. Two more errors by Nadal see Del Potro take his fifth game in a row. Important few minutes coming up for Nadal.

Del Potro 6-4 2-1* NadalThis is a must-win game for Nadal, and he starts well by moving to 30-0. A neat combination of a wide serve followed by a forehand winner sees him move to 40-15, before Del Potro goes long with a return.

Del Potro *6-4 3-1 NadalNadal moves 0-15 up, but Del Potro looks formidable right now, and takes the next four points with ease to move three service holds away from his maiden Masters title. Del Potro is serving at 72%, which is not too shabby at all.

Del Potro 6-4 3-2* NadalNadal is still displaying plenty of hunger that he wants to get back into this match, and a whipped forehand takes him to within a point of the game. Del Potro responds with a thundering forehand, but it is judged to have just gone wide, and Nadal is back to within one.

Del Potro *6-4 3-3 NadalA poorly executed drop shot lets Nadal in, but he fails to take advantage and Del Potro runs down the ball to stun his opponent, but he gifts away the advantage by hitting the ball into the net. A double fault and a wide forehand then hands Nadal two break points, but a delicate backhand drop shot on the half volley saves the first. However, a fourth error of the game gives Nadal the break, and we are back on serve.

Del Potro 6-4 3-4* NadalAll of a sudden, Nadal looks the stronger of the two, and he is starting to dominate from the back of the court. He looks to be heading to a love-service game, but Del Potro swats a backhand return winner. He goes long on the next, though, and Nadal looks pumped.

Del Potro *6-4 3-5 NadalThat's much better from Del Potro, as he moves to 30-15 after a couple of deep forehands force Nadal on the defensive. However, a drive volley gets Nadal back to 30-30, before he lets go with a powerful forehand up the line to create a break point, but Del Potro wastes no time in saving it. But after the Argentinean records a double fault, Nadal senses his chance and he attacks Del Potro to move a game away from leveling things up.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6* NadalSET! That was a quite stunning period of tennis from Nadal, and he produces a love-service to take this into a decider, sealing the set with an ace. Del Potro looks somewhat shell-shocked, and he is the definite underdog going into the final set.

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Del Potro *6-4 3-6 1-0 NadalBoth players trade unforgiving winners at the start of the set, but Nadal isn't taking a backward step, and he creates two break points after stepping into a forehand to whip it down the line. Del Potro shows great resilience to get it back to deuce, and then he jumps all over a poor return to set up game point. However, he makes a complete mess of a drop shot, and then on the second game point, Nadal fires a cross-court winner that clipped the top of the net. The Spaniard brings up his third break point of the game, but Del Potro fires another winner back at Nadal. We are into the fourth deuce, but Del Potro hangs tough to come through and take the game.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6 1-1* NadalTalk about chalk and cheese for the opening service games of the set. Nadal speeds through his without conceding a point, and the onus is quickly back on Del Potro.

Del Potro *6-4 3-6 1-2 NadalI think Del Potro is beginning to realise that Nadal is in full flight now. He gives a disgruntled look when Nadal earns two break points, and he looks exasperated when Nadal fires down another forehand to take the initiative.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6 1-3* NadalDel Potro may have looked disillusioned in that last game, but he has rediscovered his focus to move to 15-30. He looks in control to create two break points, but Nadal fight back to force the error. He then goes marginally wide with a backhand, and Nadal seals the game with an unreturnable serve.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6 2-3* NadalThat was just what the doctor ordered for Del Potro. An effortless service game that is sealed with his sixth ace. A couple of noteworthy achievements are hanging on the result of this match. Del Potro is searching for his first Masters title of his career, while if Nadal wins, he will move to world number four, replacing David Ferrer.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6 2-4* NadalYou can see the desire in Nadal's eyes. He wants this title. He blasts the ball into the stands with a smash, and a powerful forehand winner brings up three game points. Del Potro then flashes a return long, and Nadal is two games away from the title.

Del Potro *6-4 3-6 3-4 NadalYou have to give credit for Del Potro for not shrinking in the face of adversity. He produces another quick service game, which is again dominated by his forehand, and he is not going to gift this to his opponent.

Del Potro 6-4 3-6 3-5* NadalThere has been less precision about Nadal's game in this set, it has been more about power. He is showing no mercy on Del Potro, and after firing the ball past the Argentinean at the net, he thunders down an ace to force his opponent to serve to stay in the match.

Del Potro *6-4 3-6 4-5 NadalDel Potro opens with a double fault, and when he sends a tame shot into the net, the writing seems on the wall. Del Potro looks exhausted, and Nadal brings up three match points with a forehand from the back of the court. Del Potro saves the first when Nadal can't return a first serve, and another goes by when the left-hander sends a forehand long of the baseline. Remarkably, we are back at deuce and Nadal has let slip three match points. More aggression from Del Potro as Nadal can't return a drive volley, and a majestic drop shot, which must be one of the drop shots of the tournament, keep Nadal at bay, and he must serve for the championship.


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Del Potro 6-4 3-6 4-6* NadalYou can feel the tension in the Indian Wells Garden. Both players net to share the opening two points, before Nadal moves ahead with an easy volley at the net. With the point effectively lost, Del Potro stops mid-point to challenge, but it fails, and Nadal has two match points. He only needs one when Del Potro goes wide with a backhand, and ladies and gentleman, Rafael Nadal is back.

11.50pmThat was a pretty incredible tennis match. Del Potro looked in complete charge when he was a set and 3-1 up, but Nadal showed the kind of grit and determination that has seen him win 53 singles titles. After all of his injury problems, I think that will go down as one of Rafa's proudest victories of his career.

11.53pmWhile Nadal will take the adulation as the victor, enormous credit has to be give to Del Potro. Apart from his Olympic bronze medal match, this was his biggest match in 18 months, and I think he displayed to everyone that he has the ability to be a major force on the ATP Tour once again.

11.55pmAs mentioned earlier, Nadal has moved back into the world's top four, and if he can maintain that level of performance for the rest of the year, you have to believe that he will be back challenging Novak Djokovic for the number one spot sooner rather than later.

11.56pmThank you for joining us for tonight's thriller in Indian Wells. The next Masters series in Miami is just around the corner, so be sure to join us again for that. Good night everyone.

Juan Martin Del Potro
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