At 6-4, 5-4, there was a moment in this match where David was two points away from defeating Rafael Nadal in straight sets. In the end, Nadal prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours and 39 minutes. But even if it wasn't enough to pull off the victory today, it was another great match from David at the end of what has been a spectacular week at Indian Wells for him. And he also proved again today that he's fitter and physically stronger now than he has been in a long time.
Some pics from the match now on the Photo Page.
More photos and the rest tomorrow night (European time).
|(Getty Images/AP Photo; montage by VD)|
Prior to their most recent meeting, which took place at the US Open last year, Rafael Nadal was asked about his record against David. And back then, Nadal was convinced that David beat him three times when in fact it's been only two. Confronted with the same question ahead of today's match, he got the numbers (almost) right:
I've played many matches against him. US Open last year, Indian Wells 2009, Miami 2009 [that was in 2010], Madrid, Paris-Bercy... Those are all memories of difficult matches, especially the last ones because in the first ones he always beat me easily.For Rafael Nadal, #2 in the world, this is only the third tournament of the year. After starting the season at Doha, where he went out in the semifinal (against Gael Monfils), Nadal lost the final of the Australian Open against Novak Djokovic, a match that famously lasted almost six hours. He then took a month off before coming to Indian Wells, where he has cruised through the early rounds, never dropping more than five games against Leonardo Mayer, Marcel Granollers and Alexandr Dolgopolov.
As specified by Nadal in the quote above, they have met five times, so far. And on the first two occasions, at Madrid and Paris 2007, David did beat him easily. Their three encounters since then, however, all went Nadal's way, from Indian Wells 2009 (the match where David held five match points) and Miami 2010 to last year's US Open. But it's not only because of those five meetings that there are no secrets between these two. They often practice together, they know each other well and there's a lot of mutual respect between them.
In their previous matches, including those that he lost, David has shown that he's able to deal with Nadal's game in what's basically a direct battle between their best shots - Nadal's forehand against David's backhand. But keeping up with Nadal and trying to put him under pressure also means long rallies and covering a lot of ground during them. The last three times David was only able to do this for a certain amount of time before running out of gas. Whether it's going to be different, this time around - today's match will give the answer.
The last words I'll leave to Rafa:
It's going to be a difficult match because if he's physically fit and without injuries he's one of the best in the world. He beat Tipsarevic and Tsonga and that means that this is the case so I know that I have to play at a high level if I want to win. We'll see what happens. (Source.)