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“I don’t want to give up” Nadal credits fighting spirit for comeback win over Korda as unbeaten streak continues

Nadal came from 2-5 down in the final set to beat Korda and improve to 16-0 in 2022

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after a shot to Sebastian Korda at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Indian Wells, Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after a shot to Sebastian Korda at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez/SIPA)

ATP Indian Wells Masters 1000 | Results | Schedule

21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal found himself in a big hole on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The Spaniard found himself two breaks down in the final set against young American Sebastian Korda, someone who grew up idolizing the 13-time Roland-Garros champion, but somehow pulled off an incredible comeback to win in a third set tiebreaker after refusing to give up.

Korda served for the match twice at 5-2 and 5-4 in the deciding set but was broken each time as Nadal fought back to win 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 in two hours and 29 minutes.

5-2 Korda in the third

The Spaniard said he did not want to give up even when the score was 5-2 against him in the final set and wanted to keep fighting until the last point.

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

“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.”

Nadal “super lucky, honestly’

Nadal acknowledged that he was lucky to come through and that his opponent did get nervous while serving for what would have been the biggest win of Korda’s yotung career.

“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. I think in the 5-2 (game), I started to play a little bit more cross-court with my forehand and with having a little bit more of calm. He made a couple mistakes and I was able to save myself. In the 5-4 (game), he made a mistake with his forehand, but I played two great backhand passing shots, a good lob at 30-All.

Then in the 5-All (game), he had again break point and an easy forehand he missed. 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.”

Korda don’t think there’s any negatives

Despite the loss, Korda, who is already ranked 38th in the world, said he had a lot of positives to take from the second round match.

“I don’t think there’s any negatives. He’s the best player in the world right now, one of the best. He’s definitely got the best record. Hasn’t lost a match this year. Three tournaments, three titles. Not very many negatives when you’re that close against someone like him. 21 Grand Slams. Arguably one of the greatest of all time. To be that close, it’s a lot of positives. It shows me that my game is going to hurt a lot of people. People are going to get nervous. People are going to get worried. Yeah, just overall a lot of positives from it.”

16-0 for Nadal

The Spaniard is now 16-0 for the season after winning titles at the Melbourne Summer Set, Australian Open and Acapulco. Nadal said he never gives up even when his back is against the wall, as it was on Saturday, and that attitude helps him when some of the matches that he would have otherwise lost.

“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, it is not true. I don’t have this amazing self-confidence that even if I am 5-2 down, I am going to come back. But in my mind is, Okay, it is almost impossible. I don’t want to give up. I am 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%.”

The reason why I have been fighting during all my tennis career is simple, it’s because I grew with this kind of education

Nadal credited his family and the way he was raised for his never-say-die attitude, adding that they insisted that he grew up emphasizing good values, regardless of the match outcome.

“The reason why I have been fighting during all my tennis career or I have the right self-control or I have the right attitude or fighting spirit during my whole tennis career is simple, because I grew with this kind of education. My uncle, my family, never allowed me to break a racquet, never allowed me to say bad words or threw or give up a match.

Probably when I was a kid, they didn’t care much about winning or losing. Of course, all the parents and family, my uncle of course, my coach, wanted me to win every single match. But probably that was not the most important thing.”

“The most important thing was the education and the fact that I grow with the values, with the right values. So I didn’t have many chances. I had to do it that way. If not, I will not play tennis. If I went on court and I create a circus or break a racquet or lose my control, my self-control, I will not be playing the next tournament, without a doubt. That’s probably why I have this mentality.”

Nadal will next meet 27th seed Dan Evans, after the Brit easily defeated Argentina’s Federico Coria 6-2, 6-0 in one hour and eight minutes. The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 2-0, with both of those wins coming in 2019.

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