Write off Rafael Nadal at your peril. The Spaniard is still finding his way back after seven months out with an injured left knee, but he rallied to beat Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-5 to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells yesterday.
Nadal lost only once in 17 matches since his and that run includes wining two clay-court titles and reaching the final of another. To claim a third title he will have to beat either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray's conqueror, who were playing the second semi-final last night
Nadal could barely what he had achieved. "It's very, very difficult to imagine something like this," said Nadal, who beat No. 2 Roger Federer in straight sets in the quarterfinals. "But here we are today, and very happy about all what happened the last month, especially last three weeks. I did much more than what I dreamed."
Nadal swept aside Spanish world number four Ferrer 6-0 6-2 in the final of the Mexican Open two weeks ago and crushed long-time rival Federer 6-4 6-2 in the Indian Wells quarter-finals on Thursday.
"So coming back is certainly something amazing for me," the Spaniard said. "I feel very comfortable in this tournament. I feel very happy when I am here."
Twice a champion at Indian Wells, Nadal looked every inch like his former self, hitting crisp and deep ground strokes and occasionally unleashing his trademark inside-out forehand crosscourt winner.
Andy Murray's attempt to replace Roger Federer as the world No 2 will go on hold for at least another fortnight after the 25-year-old Scot failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals. Murray, who would have overtaken Federer in the world rankings by reaching the final, was beaten 6-7 6-3 6-1 by Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro after paying the price for a lack of recent matches.
Murray, who was playing his first tournament since the Australian Open in January, looked in good enough shape when he won the first-set tie-break 7-5, but some erratic serving and wayward returns in the latter stages proved costly.
"It was a tough match and I didn't serve particularly well," Murray said. "There were a lot of long rallies. The conditions were very warm in the first set or two and sometimes if your legs are just a little bit tired you can miss serves. Timing might go a little bit off and you're not quite getting up to them. That's maybe what happened today."
While Murray will now head to the Miami Masters, which begins this week, Federer is planning a seven-week. Having reached the final in Miami last year, Murray will have to win the title a fortnight today to reclaim the No 2 position, which he last held four years ago.
Caroline Wozniacki maintained her recent return to form when she beat Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-4 7-5 to reach her third Indian Wells final in four years. The Dane, who won the title in 2011, today faces the 2006 champion, Maria Sharapova, who beat Maria Kirilenko 6-4 6-3.