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Nadal Makes Masters 1000 History; Notches 600th Win

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal notched his 600th career match win Sunday.

Fifth seed Rafael Nadal rallied past No. 7 seed Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open to win a record-breaking 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy. In claiming his third Indian Wells crown (2007, 2009), Nadal notched his 600th match win, joining Roger Federer as the only active players to achieve the feat.

"A lot of things happened the last seven months, [so] to be back here and to have this very heavy trophy with me is amazing," said Nadal. "Beating three Top 10 players and winning a title like this is just something unbelievable for me. I'm very, very happy and very emotional."

Nadal has made a triumphant return to the ATP World Tour since beginning his comeback in February from a seven-month absence with a left knee injury. After falling in the Vina del Mar final to Horacio Zeballos, the Spaniard has won three consecutive trophies to post a 14-match win streak and career-best 17-1 season start. Nadal was contesting his first hard-court final since the 2012 Australian Open, when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the longest Grand Slam final on record.

"When you have one comeback like I'm having, you remember all the low things, lower moments that you had during the seven months," Nadal said. "Hopefully I passed and can just remember all the people that really helped me a lot during all this time."

Nadal, who has played 18 matches in the past six weeks, has withdrawn from the Sony Open Tennis. He will return to the ATP World Tour next month at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he will chase a ninth consecutive title. 

Del Potro was bidding to win his first Masters 1000 crown. He upset third-ranked Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and then ousted World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals to hand the Serbian his first loss of the season. Del Potro dropped to a 14-6 record in tour-level finals.

"I think Rafa deserved to win," said del Potro. "The last hour of the match, he played so solid and put me so far [from] the baseline and made winners. But I think I [had] a good tournament anyway, and Rafa played really well today in the second and third sets. He broke me early in the third. Playing against him when the score is down is tougher. I was fighting all the time but he won in the end."

Squaring off for the 11th time, del Potro found himself down 0-3 before winning nine of the next 11 games to open a set and a break lead. Nadal stayed patient and relied on his forehand down the line to get back into the match. The Mallorcan’s confidence grew after he levelled the encounter at one-set all, as he won 20 of his 23 service points in the decisive set to close out the hard-fought win in just under two and a half hours. Nadal improved to 8-3 versus del Potro and has won their past four clashes.

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