Nadal finally beaten in Indian Wells final as Federer returns to court after injury

Roger Federer to miss US Open and undergo knee surgery

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Indian Wells reached a dramatic conclusion on the men’s side of the draw as Taylor Fritz handed Rafael Nadal his first loss of the season to win the title. Fritz was left in doubt to compete after picking up an ankle injury in his Saturday semi-final but looked his usual self as he took to the court, with Nadal instead suffering with a pectoral injury he picked up in his own semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz.

It was a more straightforward affair on the women’s side as Iga Swiatek needed just 80 minutes to beat Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1 to lift her second consecutive title. Nadal had already been involved in some entertaining encounters with Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios, as the latter ended with the Aussie throwing his racket and narrowly missing a ball boy. He later met up with the ball boy in question to apologise and shared their meeting on social media.

It’s been a good month for the Brits after Harriet Dart came through qualifying to make the last 16 in Indian Wells and is about to get better, with Sutton-born Jack Draper receiving a Miami Open wildcard. Away from the Californian desert, Roger Federer was back on the practice court for the first time since undergoing his third knee surgery last year. The 40-year-old also offered an update on his potential comeback in the foreword of his Roger Federer Foundation’s annual report.

Fritz ends American wait as Swiatek overcomes Sakkari

Taylor Fritz became the first American champion at Indian Wells in 21 years as he ended Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten run for the season to win his biggest career title. The 24-year-old was playing his maiden Masters 1000 final and was almost forced to withdraw beforehand, having experienced what he called the “worst pain in my life before a match” off the back of an ankle injury he picked up in the semi-final. Instead it was the Spaniard who looked flat after picking up a pectoral injury in his own semi-final, but he managed to stay in the match and fight until the end before the American won 6-3 7-6(5). Fritz will now rise to world No 13 but has admitted he is in doubt for the Miami Open over the ankle issue, with an MRI planned  for Monday.

Iga Swiatek became the champion when she defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1 in an hour and 20 minutes, winning her second successive WTA 1000 title. The Greek player had already overcome a massive hurdle by reaching the final, having always been stopped at the semi-final stage of the biggest tournaments including last year’s French Open. The 20-year-old Pole will now rise to a career-high world No 2 while Sakkari follows closely behind with her own career-high of No 3.

JUST IN: Nadal appears to drop retirement hint after losing Indian Wells final

Djokovic returns to world No 1 without playing

Novak Djokovic is back at the top of tennis despite being unable to compete in Indian Wells and Miami due to his unvaccinated status. The Serb was overtaken by Daniil Medvedev on February 28 after he lost to qualifier Jiri Vesely in the Dubai quarter-finals but has returned for his 362nd week at world No 1 after Gael Monfils defeated the 26-year-old 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the Indian Wells third-round.

Federer gives injury update as he returns to practice court

Roger Federer shared a first look at his return to the practice court last week as he posted a video of himself hitting forehands after getting the all clear to start hitting again. The 40-year-old missed almost all of the 2020 season to undergo two knee surgeries and his return last year was short-lived as he played just five tournaments before deciding to have a third surgery after Wimbledon.

The former world No 1 also offered a positive update on his potential comeback in the foreword of his Foundation’s annual report earlier in the week, saying his first comeback attempt last year gave him the motivation to get back to his best once more. “After many months of battling injury, my return to the tour in March, after my first operation, highlighted and energised me to continue my tennis career. I’m grateful for every minute I was able to spend with my fans and tennis family on court. My experience in Doha illustrated to me that my journey as an elite athlete isn’t over yet. The progress I make every day strengthens my belief that I will be healthy and strong enough to return to the tennis court at the highest level,” he wrote.

Nadal calls physio after dropping set to Fritz in Indian Wells final
Nadal Indian Wells final in doubt as Fritz suffers injury before clash
Roger Federer role in Taylor Fritz’s career ahead of Rafael Nadal tie

Kyrgios apologises to ball boy for near-miss in Nadal outburst

Nick Kyrgios was back in action for the first time since winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title and equalled his career-best showing in Indian Wells by reaching the quarter-finals where he faced eventual-champion Nadal. The Spaniard narrowly came through their ninth meeting 7-6(0) 5-7 6-4 and Kyrgios threw his racket in frustration, which bounced up and just missed hitting a ball boy who moved out of the way.

The former world No 13 was criticised for his actions but later apologised after watching back the footage, and reached out to the ball boy on social media before arranging a meeting with him for the following day, when he said sorry and gave him his racket.

Dart earns fairytale week as Draper bids to repeat heroics

Harriet Dart had a breakthrough week in Indian Wells as she came through qualifying to reach the last 16. On the way she defeated the likes of former world No 3 and 12th seed Elina Svitolina, and former top 20 players Kaia Kanepi and Ana Konjuh. Her run ended at the hands of Madison Keys but she has broken into the world’s top 100 for the first time off the back of her heroics in the desert and is the new British No 2.

Jack Draper will now be looking to replicate her run in the upcoming 1000-point in Miami after joining Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios as one of the main draw wildcard recipients. The 20-year-old took a set off Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year and has already won three successive Challenge titles this year.

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