Rafael Nadal likens Indian Wells comeback to Australian Open as he admits to 'worst match'

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Rafael Nadal said he played one of his “worst matches of the year” as he managed to come back from the brink against Sebastian Korda at Indian Wells. Finding himself 2-5 down in the third set, the Spaniard eventually turned things around to close out a 6-2 1-7 7-6(3) win and later likened the victory to his comeback from two sets down in the recent Australian Open final.

Nadal came into Indian Wells undefeated for the season with a 15-0 win-loss record and three titles under his belt.

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He looked to be cruising to his 16th victory of the season when he took a 6-2 lead over world No 38 but the tables suddenly turned as he was broken twice in the second set and lost it 6-1.

Korda, who has previously admitted to being a huge Nadal fan and even named his cat after the world No 4, continued his momentum into the third and final set as he broke his idol twice to lead 5-2.

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But it was the 21-time Grand Slam champion who suddenly hit a run of form and won the next four games in a row to lead 6-5, narrowly escaping defeat as the American served for the match twice.

“I thought I was lost today, so… And in Australia, very similar feeling,” he explained.

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Rafael Nadal likens Indian Wells comeback to Australian Open as he admits to 'worst match'
© Getty Rafael Nadal said he played one of his

The match was ultimately decided by a final set tiebreak, won by Nadal 7-3 to extend his winning streak to 16 matches and keep himself alive in the BNP Paribas Open.

Despite completing an impressive comeback from 2-5 down, the Spaniard piled all the praise on his opponent in his on-court interview and admitted it was probably Korda who should have won.

He said: “I was very lucky today because I probably played one of the worst matches of the year. I feel sorry for him because he deserves, probably, more than me the match of today.”

And speaking in his post-match press conference, Nadal admitted he thought he had already lost the match and likened the feeling to his recent Australian Open final, where he went two sets down and 3-3 0-40 to Daniil Medvedev before winning.

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“But that means that I am going to keep trying or keep fighting, that’s all.

“Even if I think I going to lose the match, my mindset before returning that 5-2 game is, Okay, I am playing bad, I am down two breaks, but even if I am going to lose, I am going to try to finish the match having some better feelings.”

Elaborating on how he managed to turn things around and capitalise on any nerves coming from Korda, Nadal continued: “I played a little bit better. He had some mistakes.

“Then with 5-3, if you are able to save that game, 5-4, you never know what can happen. 5-2, is very difficult to come back, honestly.

“Two breaks is very unusual. With 5-4, one break, if you are able to hit a couple of good balls, the opponent gets a little bit nervous, something that happens every single week on the tour.

“With 5-4 I need to play a good game, but you know that you can do it.

“I think it is true that probably he got a little bit more nervous. He made some more mistakes, being honest. I think I played a little bit better at least.”

Rafael Nadal likens Indian Wells comeback to Australian Open as he admits to 'worst match'
© Getty Sebastian Korda led Rafael Nadal 5-2 in the final set before losing it in a tiebreak

Despite criticising his performance, the 91-time title winner showed his champion’s mentality as he explained how he managed to stay in the match from a losing position.

“The only thing that I can tell you is, if the people believe that I am a believer all the time that I going to come back, not true. I am not this. I don’t have this amazing self-confidence that even if I am 5-2, okay, I going to come back. No,” he admitted.

“But in my mind is, Okay, is almost impossible. I don’t want to give up. I going to keep trying. But I know it’s going to be almost impossible.

“Let’s try to let him win, not help him to win. Just try to keep going and to put the things a little bit more difficult to the opponent.

“Normal thing with this kind of match, in that position from 100 matches, probably you going to lose 90. But if you give up, you’re going to lose 100. If you are there, you can win 10 per cent.”

The world No 4 will next face Britain’s Dan Evans but said he needed to step up his game before his third-round match.

He added: “I was super lucky today to be through, honestly. Accepting that, I need to play better because I didn’t play well. I will work tomorrow to try to be ready for after tomorrow.”

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