For one set, Almagro seemed to believe he could win. He began the match by taking full advantage of Nadal's slow start in the cold, windy, and mostly rainy conditions. His backhand held up well against Nadal's top spin forehand, and he was able to create angles and outhit the World No. 5. He broke Nadal in the first and third games of the match to quickly go up 3-0, aided by atypical unforced errors from his countryman.
Nadal is back!
This tournament marked Rafael Nadal's return to the hard courts, his first official matches on the surface since March 2012 in Miami. Nadal was humble about his chances coming into Indian Wells, repeatedly saying he was just happy to be back and playing, that each extra match was a bonus for him. But, clearly, he didn't have that much rust to shake off. It surely helped that Nadal got a first round bye, that Leonardo Mayer withdrew before their third round match, and that Roger Federer was not at his best in their Quarterfinal. But Nadal had to bring his "A game" to beat Thomas Berdych in Saturday's Semifinal, and he showed much of his old form in this match, taking it 6-4, 7-5. Long rallies, corner-to-corner aggressive defense, and punishing forehands had the crowd roaring for most of the match. Sunday, we'll see if Nadal is in good enough form to win his third BNP Paribas Open title.