Any questions about the health of Rafael Nadal’s knee have been put to rest after his victory on March 17th at the BNP Paribas Open. He faced Juan Martin Del Porto in his fourth straight finals appearance since coming back from injury. After dropping the first set 4-6 and then going 0-2 in the second, Nadal stormed back to take the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win his third title since returning. The win as also Nadal’s 600th career victory.
After a match that took 2 hours and 29 minutes, Nadal told reporters that, “It’s probably one of the most emotional victories of my career. The support since I came back has been huge. It’s an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament.”
Del Porto took the first set in just 54 minutes and looked to take out Nadal after breaking Nadal’s serve in the second set. However, Nadal stormed back to pull the match square and then take the title after Del Porto saved three match points in the final set.
Nadal admitted that early on he was “playing too aggressively” in the first set. He then went on to say that “When I was able to calm myself, I began to play better. I started to play a little bit slower. My movement was unbelievable.”
The rumor that Nadal might have to give up tennis for poker have also been put to rest with his impressive performances. Some believed that he was working on a potential World Series of Poker run due to his contract with PokerStars. Poker’s biggest stars have never managed to win the Main Event and many amateur players have made deep runs in recent years, including celebrity players. However, now that Nadal is back to playing up to form, odds are he will focus on regaining the World’s #1 ranking.
Speaking of his world ranking, Nadal’s recent victory at Indian Wells moved him back up to #4, knocking David Ferrer back down to #5. The victory may have come at a cost to Nadal. He recently had to pull out of the Ericsson Sony Open because of complications with his knee. Whether he really aggravated his knee or he is just taking a precaution ahead of the French Open in two months will remain to be seen.