Rafael Nadal chased his 37th Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells. Rafa battled Taylor Fritz and suffered a 6-3, 7-6 loss in two hours and six minutes. It was Nadal’s first loss of the season after 20 straight wins, struggling with a pectoral muscle injury and playing below his best.
Fritz also had problems with his ankle. However, he decided to play and give his best against a winner of 21 Majors in his first Masters 1000 final. Nadal fought well, but it wasn’t enough for at least one set after wasting too many chances in the second.
Rafa admitted that he felt a sharp pain when moving or breathing, and described it as if he had a needle inside. Nadal committed more than 30 unforced errors and was unable to force a decider against the younger opponent. The local player added ten more points and defended eight of ten break chances, mainly in the second set.
Rafael Nadal battled through pain against Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final.
Rafa suffered four breaks and lost steam at crucial moments to settle for runner-up. Fritz converted the fourth break opportunity in the first game of the encounter and was held to scoreless in the second game.
The American broke again in the third game and went ahead 4-0 with another comfortable hold a few minutes later. Nadal pulled back a break in game eight to extend the set and cut the deficit to 5-3. Still, the Spaniard experienced the third break in game nine to give Taylor the set.
Rafa broke from 1-1 up in the second set, but couldn’t stay in front for long as Taylor pulled out the break instantly. Fritz fended off four break points at 2-2 for some big momentum and played against another break chance at 4-4.
He kept his cool and saved it with a reliable backhand. The home favorite won match point after a running forehand down the line winner on the return at 5-4. Nadal saved him with a forehand attack and dragged out the battle, still not wanting to give up.
The Spaniard squandered two more break opportunities in game 11, which would cost him dearly. Rafa carved out a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker before making a mistake with a forehand volley. Taylor went up 6-5 with another mini-break and converted the second match point to lift the best title of his career.
«I was in pain, really. I was having trouble breathing, and I don’t know if it was something in the rib. I don’t know yet. When I was breathing and moving, it was like a needle in me all the time. I was a little dizzy because it’s a pain that limits me a lot.
It’s not just about pain; I don’t feel very well because it affects my breathing. It’s more than being sad about the loss; That’s something I accepted immediately, even before the game ended. It’s more that I’m suffering a bit,» Rafael Nadal said.