Rafael Nadal cemented his status as the hottest tennis player on the planet this year with a superb 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the final of the Masters Series event at Indian Wells on Sunday.
The Spanish left-hander, who was sidelined for seven months last year with a left knee injury, overcame a gritty challenge from the hard-hitting Argentine to win his 53rd ATP singles title.
Nadal broke Del Potro in the third game of the final set and, after his opponent had saved three match points in the ninth, served out to seal victory after an absorbing final that lasted two hours and 29 minutes.
The match ended with a mistimed forehand from Del Potro which floated wide and the Spaniard immediately dropped to the ground on his back in celebration.
It was Nadal’s third ATP title of the year after appearing in four successive finals, and his first on a hardcourt surface since Tokyo in 2010.