Rafa Nadal beat Tomas Berdych 2-1 after another choke at Indian Wells. After losing the opener, Berdych served for the second set at 5-3 but played a shocker to lose the next four games in a row and with it the match.
The second semi-final was much more of a tennis spectacle, as Juan Martin Del Potro battled back from a set behind and then from 3-0 down in the decider to defeat world number one Novak Djokovic. It was Nole’s first defeat of 2013 in a competitive match and it was all the more remarkable considering that Delpo is protecting a dodgy left wrist. He had to utilise the backhand slice much more than he usually would.
Whether that tactic will be so effective against someone like Nadal, who is more adept at the longer rallies than perhaps even Djokovic, is questionable. Delpo’s physical condition is also a concern after two gruelling come-from-behind wins over the Serb and Andy Murray in consecutive days.
Nadal should be the fresher of the two, having played one match fewer and spent far less time on court than his opponent. That could be a factor tonight in the first meeting between the pair since the Davis Cup Final on 2011 on the red dirt.
Rafa has won the last four in a row against Del Potro, including their last encounter on a hard court, which was here at Indian Wells in 2011, but Delpo has taken Rafa apart in the past on outdoor hard. I very much doubt that the wrist will allow him to do that here, especially in these slow conditions, but what we have here is two players who are not at their best physically and it could swing on who feels better on the day.
I have a feeling that this one could take a while, which leads me again to the Rafa 2-1 win. At 4.25 it’s worth taking a chance on that when this match begins at 9pm UK time tonight.
Best bet: Back Nadal to beat Del Potro 2-1 at 4.25