Following the semi-final victories over Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro set the title clash in Indian Wells 2013, with the Spaniard chasing the third crown in the desert and the Argentine his first Masters 1000 trophy overall.
It was their 11th meeting and Nadal earned the eighth victory, beating del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 for the 22nd Masters 1000 crown and so far the last in the desert. It was the 17th victory for Nadal in 18 matches in 2013, recovering completely from a knee injury that forced him to skip the second part of the previous season and winning the first hard-court title since Tokyo 2010.
Rafa played better on the second serve and had numerous chances to seal the deal much earlier, creating 18 break opportunities and converting only four while suffering three breaks from as many break points offered to the Argentine.
Nadal had more winners and fewer unforced errors, with del Potro creating a gap in the forced errors department to stay in touch, battling hard for every point before Rafa found the way to bring the victory home. The Argentine had a slim edge in the shortest exchanges while the Spaniard dominated in the more extended ones, forging his triumph in that area and becoming the third player with three Masters 1000 trophies in Indian Wells after Michael Chang and Roger Federer.
A forehand down the line winner secured a break for the Spaniard in the second game, opening a 3-0 lead and creating more chances on the return in the next game. Juan Martin denied them and landed a forehand winner to get his name on the scoreboard, pulling the break back in the next game with a return winner to reduce the damage and holding at 15 with a service winner to level the score at 3-3.
Both players delivered comfortable holds in games seven and eight before del Potro grabbed the second break following a forehand error from Nadal, moving 5-4 in front and securing the opening set with a volley winner in game ten after 53 minutes.
Juan Martin broke in the first game of the second set when Rafa netted a forehand, holding in game two after another terrible forehand from the Spaniard to move a set and a break up. With no room for mistakes, Nadal broke back in the sixth game and held at 15 with a service winner to go 4-3 up, securing another break with a forehand winner to forge the advantage and closing the set with three winners at 5-3 to force a decider.
The Argentine survived break chances at the beginning of the final set before Rafa landed a forehand winner at 1-1 to move in front, cementing the break with a service winner and taking a massive step towards the finish line.
Both players held at love in the next two games and the Spaniard did the same at 4-3 to maintain the lead, earning three match points on the return in the next game. Del Potro showed the spirit of a warrior, fending them all and taking five straight points before Rafa held at 15 in game ten to start a massive celebration of a significant title after a terrible second part of 2012.