World No. 1 Rafael Nadal crushed Scotland’s Andy Murray 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday to win the Indian Wells ATP Masters series title.
Nadal, the reigning Australian Open champion, defied difficult, windy conditions to capture the crown in the California desert for the second time, following his previous triumph in 2007.
As in the women’s final that preceded it, the men’s championship match was played in swirling winds that had both players scrambling.
But Nadal, who started the tournament as the top seed for the first time — after Roger Federer came in as the No. 1 the past five years — kept his focus to get the job done in one hour, 20 minutes.
Despite the defeat, world No. 4 Murray leaves California closing in on world No. 3 Novak Djokovic, whose title defense ended with a quarter-final loss to Andy Roddick of the US.
Murray beat Federer in the semis to book his place in the championship match, giving himself a shot at a third title this year, along with those he won in Doha and Rotterdam.
Since those successes Murray has been slowed by illness, withdrawing from the quarter-finals in Dubai and skipping Davis Cup.
Under the circumstances, he said, reaching the final was a good result.
“I don’t feel like I’m that disappointed just now with how the week went, because I wasn’t expecting to do that well,” he said. “Today was not my best day, but I’ll definitely get over it. I’m guessing I’m not going to play in those conditions each week.”
Nadal was playing in his third final in four starts this season, including his five-set Aussie Open triumph over Federer and a loss to Murray in Rotterdam.
Nadal also lost to Murray in the semi-finals of the US Open last September, but the Spaniard said he wasn’t out for revenge.
“Andy was the only big top player I didn’t win against this year, so it’s an important win for me,” he said. “But the most important thing for me is to win the title, not the opponent.”
The 22-year-old Spaniard, who saved five match points in a fourth-round victory over Argentina’s David Nalbandian to keep his title challenge alive, said adding the first Masters series title of the year to his Australian Open triumph made for a “dream start” to the year.
He now owns 13 elite Masters titles and 33 ATP tour trophies — tied for 16th place on the Open Era list with Arthur Ashe and Mats Wilander.
In women’s action, fourth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva won the biggest title of her career by beating defending champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-6, 6-2 in Sunday’s final.
Playing more consistently in difficult gusting winds at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Zvonareva reeled off six games in a row in the second set to wrap up victory in just under two hours.
Both players, battling with service tosses, were broken twice in the opening set.
The Russian saved three set points in the 12th game before holding serve and taking the tiebreak 7-5 after fifth-seeded Ivanovic netted a forehand.
Although the elegant Serb hit a rasping backhand winner down the line to break Zvonareva in the first game of the second set before holding serve to lead 2-0, her resistance quickly folded.
The Russian world No. 6 broke Ivanovic in the fourth, sixth and eighth games to clinch her ninth WTA singles title one day after claiming the women’s doubles crown with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
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