ATP Indian Wells: Rafael Nadal produces another miraculous comeback

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ATP Indian Wells: Rafael Nadal produces another miraculous comeback

The three-time Indian Wells champion Rafael Nadal is through to the third round in the desert. Nadal scored a massive 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 victory over the young American Sebastian Korda in two hours and 29 minutes to avoid the earliest loss since Shanghai 2016.

Korda led 5-2 in the final set and served for the victory twice before Nadal produced another impressive comeback after the Australian Open final to remain unbeaten in 2022. Rafa won five points more than Sebastian, fending off seven out of 11 break points and losing serve four times from six chances offered to the young opponent.

Korda had a massive advantage in set number two and in the third set's opening seven games, serving well and dominating with his sharp and aggressive groundstrokes. Nevertheless, he failed to deliver the finishing strike and beat his idol in front of the home crowd.

There was nothing to separate them in the shortest and more extended rallies, and Rafa gave his best to raise his level in the closing stages to emerge at the top and move to 16-0 in 2022. Korda netted a forehand in the encounter's opening game to offer Nadal three break points, and the Spaniard seized the second after his rival's huge forehand mistake.

In game two, Rafa fired a service winner to cement the break and grabbed another after Sebastian's loose forehand for a 3-0 advantage in ten minutes. A three-time champion placed a forehand winner in game four to extend the lead, and he faced two break points at 4-1.

Nadal stayed calm, saved them with winners and painted a backhand down the line winner to bring the game home and move 5-1 in front. Serving for the set at 5-2, the Spaniard fired a service winner to close the opener in 35 minutes and gain a boost ahead of set number two.

Rafael Nadal prevailed over Sebastian Korda in Indian Wells.

Korda found the rhythm behind the initial shot in the opener's closing stages, and he used it in the second part of the clash. The American held from 30-0 down in the first game with a winner at the net and earned a break chance in the next one after forcing Nadal's mistake with a rock-solid backhand attack.

Rafa netted a forehand to give serve away and chase the result from the early stages. Sebastian confirmed the advantage in the third game and fended off a break chance at 3-1 with another brave attack. Dictating the pace, Korda brought the game home for another boost of confidence against his idol.

Losing ground in those moments, Nadal wasted game points at 1-4 and got broken after a cracking forehand down the line winner from the youngster, who now served for the set. Sebastian held at 30 in game seven to wrap up the set and introduce a decider after an hour and 15 minutes.

Both players served well in the opening four games of the second set, and Nadal had multiple game points at 2-2. He squandered them and experienced a break following Korda's forehand crosscourt winner. Sebastian held after deuce in game six and extended the lead to 5-2 when Rafa hit a costly double fault.

With no room for errors, the Spaniard pulled one break back in game eight when the American sprayed a backhand mistake. Rafa held at 30 in game nine to move 4-5 behind, and Sebastian served for the victory for the second time in game ten.

He hit a wild forehand to get broken and bring Nadal back to 5-5, with the crowd on Stadium 1 witnessing more drama. Rafa fended off a break point in game 11 in one of the crucial moments of the entire encounter. From 3-2 down in the tie break, Nadal rattled off five straight points to claim the breaker 7-3 and extend his winning streak in 2022.