Nadal Wins Another Title

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Rafael Nadal was determined to overcome the tricky, swirling winds that made serving and even hitting routine shots tricky.

No. 1 Nadal powered his way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Andy Murray on a gusty Sunday afternoon at the BNP Paribas Open to win his second Indian Wells title in three years.

Like Nadal, Vera Zvonareva was steadier in the wind than her finals opponent, beating defending champion Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (5), 6-2 to win the women's title.

Nadal's low, hard groundstrokes gave him an edge against No. 4 Murray, more of a counterpuncher whose game relies on pace and a mix of shots.

"The conditions today were really difficult. But I think I had a good strategy and played a really good match under this conditions," Nadal said. "Probably Andy didn't play his best because of the conditions, but I think I played a really complete match, moving very well.

"I never stopped the legs during the match and I think that was the key. Maybe I accepted the conditions a little bit better than him. Maybe I had a little bit more positive attitude than him."

The 22-year-old Spaniard rode his usual powerful forehands to the lopsided win over Murray, hitting 10 winners from that side to Murray's one. Nadal also was efficient at the net, winning eight of 11 points to Murray's 5-of-10.

With the wind making the service toss difficult, neither player served an ace.

Nadal explained his wind-play strategy.

"I tried to play inside the court, go to the net some, move all the time," he said. "It's important that you know you don't have to find the lines all the time, but hit the ball inside, not so close to the lines."

Murray said, "Rafa dealt with it well. He hit the ball cleaner and just seemed to get himself in better positions than I did. You want to be in the best position possible to hit each ball and I wasn't. That's why he managed to dictate most of the points."

Nadal added the championship to the Australian Open title he won earlier this year, and avenged a loss to Murray, a 21-year-old Scot, in the Rotterdam final.

Zvonareva added the singles trophy to the one she won in doubles with Victoria Azarenka a day earlier. Zvonareva had beaten Azarenka in their singles semifinal. No. 6 Zvonareva joined Lindsay Davenport as the only women to win the singles and doubles title at Indian Wells in the same year. Davenport did it twice, in 1997 and 2000.

In the singles final this time, the wind gusted around the stadium in the 40-mph range, with the players often tossing the ball to serve only to have to catch it and try again, and again.

Serving the first point of the tiebreaker, Ivanovic tossed the ball up, it went sailing some three feet behind her, bounced on the court and kept bouncing away, swept off the court by the wind.

Ivanovic finally served and won the point, but a string of errors cost her the rest of the tiebreaker and plagued her in the second set. She made 46 unforced errors in the match, double Zvonareva's total. Ivanovic also had five double faults, Zvonareva one.

Those mistakes negated Ivanovic's winners — she hit 29 to Zvonareva's five.

"After a couple of games, I knew that the conditions were very difficult and it's not going to probably change and I have to fight for every point, have to adjust my game," Zvonareva said. "Even though I had some mistakes and some frustrating points with the wind, I was still trying to put as many balls as I can in the court, trying to concentrate."

Ivanovic said the conditions were the worst she's played in.

"It wasn't much about the game plan. It was just who can handle the conditions better, and who can stay probably mentally tougher through it," Ivanovic said.

"Today, she did. "Yeah, she played really well."


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