After playing at an incredible level all week, Spaniard Rafael Nadal has been defeated in his Indian Wells semi-finals match by Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 3-6, 6-4, 7-6. For the most part Nadal played well until about half way through the second set where his forehand, which has been lethal this week, seemed to abandon him. He also wasted a few opportunities to go up 4-2 in the second set, possibly a side effect of how little he has played this season. He also failed to go for the kill against Nikolay Davydenko in the Doha finals in January.
A jubilant Ivan said “Probably the best I’ve ever played in my career, I enjoyed it, really… Great, great moment, and the fourth Masters finals, four different Masters, so I hope this one, it’s finally gonna be the victory.”
Nadal was still positive about the outcome of the match, looking forward to the doubles final later that day. “That was an accident today. That’s my feeling, because I was playing (well) enough to win the tournament. It was an important accident, and I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time, try to convert the opportunities. But for the rest, nothing to say, no? I was feeling I was playing better than probably ever on this court.”
But Nadal does walk away with a title, even if it’s not the one he really wanted, even if it doesn’t count in terms of ending his singles title drought (May 2009 – last win – Rome). Rafa and childhood friend Marc Lopez, who normally plays Challengers, won their second ATP level doubles title, in only their 5th tournament together, again beating Nestor and Zimonjic 7-6, 6-3
“For me it’s a pleasure to play with Marc. He’s a very close friend of mine, and we do really well. After losing important singles, the victory in doubles makes me happy. Always is nice to win a tournament. We never thought about winning the tournament here, so we’re very happy for that. We enjoying a lot playing together.” – Rafael Nadal
It’s an amazing week and my second time here. It’s a pleasure to play with Rafa; he’s my friend. I always play Challengers so this is very big for me. It’s unbelievable. Every match is important and beating for the second time is great.” – Marc Lopez