- ATP Tour
Nadal triumphs at Indian Wells
The Spaniard had to come from a set down to get the better of the big Argentine, winning 4-6 6-3 6-3 to claim the opening ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.
The current French Open champion returned to the circuit last month following a seven-month layoff through injury, and this week at Indian Wells it looked as though he had never been away after getting the better of Del Potro in a pulsating final.
Del Potro had been making all the headlines this week after knocking out Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and inflicting a first defeat in 2013 on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
However, against Nadal he could not replicate that fine form which brought him here to the final despite winning the opening set.
Nadal worked extremely hard to get the victory, and he was rewarded for his efforts as the 26-year-old clinched a record-breaking 22nd Masters title, and notched up the 600th win of his remarkable career.
Nadal was buoyed by his victory over 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, and has grown as the tournament was reaching its conclusion.
It was an amazing opening for Nadal who raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Del Potro began to load his weapon of a forehand and crunch some incredible winners that not even Nadal could get a racquet on.
Del Potro, in search of his maiden Masters crown, was going toe-to-toe with the Spaniard, and with all the momentum behind him it was Del Potro who took the opening set.
Nadal looked as though he did not have an answer for what Del Potro was throwing at him. However, he finally woke up and started to claw his way back into the contest, roaring with delight in typical Rafa-like fashion, and after making Del Potro run around the court levelled the final and forced a deciding set with an ace.
Del Potro was beginning to become fatigued, and this played into Nadal's hands as the Spaniard looking as fit as ever made his experience count at this level, sniffing break point opportunities and converting them in the fourth and eighth games.
Del Potro managed to save three championship points, but the former US Open champion was only delaying the inevitable, as Nadal served out the victory to seal a historic triumph and mark his return in tremendous style.