Djokovic ‘cleared out of the way’ for Nadal says host
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Rafael Nadal beat teenage sensation Carlos Alvarez in ‘almost unplayable’ conditions to reach the Indian Wells final on Saturday evening – and his approach to the ordeal showed why he is tennis’ most successful star after refusing to bow down to the windy conditions.
Nadal beat prodigy Alvarez 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach his fifth Indian Wells tournament of his career. It wasn’t without struggle – not only due to Alvarez’s talent, but conditions in California were dubbed ‘almost unplayable’ by Nadal.
Nonetheless, he powered through to claim a relatively routine victory. And the Spaniard told of how he relishes the challenge of substandard conditions to overcome adversity.
“The problem in tennis is we don’t have a ruling for that,” Nadal said. “There is no ruling for wind. There is no ruling saying after X miles an hour we should suspend the match.
“I tell you one thing, I enjoy a lot of times playing with wind because for me it’s a challenge. It’s like playing golf with a lot of wind. I mean, we [are] going to have mistakes. The level will not be that high. But it’s about try to find solutions all the time.”
Whilst Nadal advanced to the final, he did not find it easy against his fellow countryman. Alvarez, 18, took Nadal close in the first set, although the Mallorca-born legend’s prowess shone through in the eleventh game of the first set.
The youngster levelled proceedings, though with Nadal failing to lead the second set at any point past the third game. And although Nadal broke him down in the final set, there was enough on show from the youngster to convince Nadal he has a future in the game.
However, the veteran claimed that Alvarez must keep a level head in the future if he is to win on the big stage. “When you are young,” said Nadal, “when you are living new experiences for the first time, everything is new.
“You are playing in stadiums, against opponents, in tournaments that just one, two years ago you were only watching these events on TV. I think you’re excited. You have the passion.”
Nadal plays Taylor Fritz on Sunday in a bid to win his 37th ATP Masters title. A victory would put him level with Novak Djokovic in terms of ATP titles won, and would further confirm his status as the greatest tennis player of all-time.
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