Kicking off the third straight season as world no. 2, Rafael Nadal lost in the semi-final in Chennai and the Australian Open quarter-final to Fernando Gonzalez, taking a break and returning in Dubai where he won the title a year ago.
Mikhail Youzhny proved to be too strong in the quarter-final, and the Spaniard had to raise his level to stand a chance at the first Masters 1000 event of the season in Indian Wells. Beating four rivals in straight sets, Nadal repeated the semi-final run from 2006 and faced the 3rd seed Andy Roddick in the battle for the first final at this event.
It was their third meeting and the second straight victory for Rafa, who produced a 6-4, 6-3 win in an hour and 14 minutes, dominating on serve and stealing Andy's serve three times to control the scoreboard and march into the title clash.
Firing 33 winners and only 12 unforced errors, Rafa overshadowed Andy's 22 winners and 15 mistakes, earning ten break chances after taming the opponent's second serve and moving a win away from the third Masters 1000 crown on hard courts.
The American fired a service winner for a hold at 15 in the opening game, with Nadal landing a forehand winner in game two to level the score at 1-1 and get his name on the scoreboard. Another booming serve secured the third game for the American before Rafa painted a direct point from his forehand to stay in touch.
Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Roddick in the Indian Wells 2007 semi-final.
The Spaniard created three break chances in the fifth game and converted the last one following Roddick's volley error to grab a break and move 3-2 in front.
Landing an ace down the T line, Nadal held at love to confirm the advantage and open a 4-2 gap, delivering another ace for a hold in game eight that kept him in front. Untroubled behind the initial shot, Rafa held at 15 in game ten to grab the opener 6-4, looking rock-solid and hoping for more of the same in set number two.
He fired a forehand winner in the first game to seize the fourth break chance and open a set and a break lead, cementing it with a service winner in game two. The Spaniard hurled another forehand winner in the fourth game to remain in front and missed the opportunity on the return in the next one before holding with ease after an ace to forge a 4-2 advantage.
A smash winner sent Nadal 5-3 up, and it was all over when he broke Roddick in game nine to move into the final and set the Novak Djokovic clash.