RAFAEL NADAL has won all three tournaments he has played this year.
Rafael Nadal is hoping to make it a fourth Indian Wells title and a fourth title for 2022 at the BNP Paribas Open over the next week. The world No 4 has won all three tournaments he has played this year, including a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. His fellow Spaniard Paula Badosa is the defending champion on the women’s side, and has opened up on how Nadal inspired her to win the event last year.
Nadal has had his best-ever start to a season, currently holding a 15-0 win-loss record in 2022, eclipsing his previous career-best of 11-0 in 2014.
The Spaniard returned from a six-month injury lay-off in Australia at the start of the year, going on to win the Melbourne ATP 250 and the Australian Open just weeks after doubting whether he’d ever compete again after struggling with a foot injury.
He then won the Mexico Open last month and comes into Indian Wells undefeated so far this year, making him one of the players to beat in the men’s draw alongside reigning champion Cameron Norrie.
Another player to beat this week in the Californian desert is Badosa, Nadal’s compatriot who won the title on her debut last year.
The WTA world No 7 had her career-best year in 2021, winning her maiden title in Serbia, reaching her first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open, breaking into the top ten and making her WTA Finals debut alongside her Indian Wells trophy win.
Badosa started last season at world No 70 – just one place down from her career-high of No 69 – and ended it at world No 8 before going on to make her top five debut earlier this year.
Still only aged just 24, the reigning champion at the BNP Paribas Open has opened up on how Nadal inspired her own career as she continues to reach new heights.
“Rafael Nadal is the reference point for me. He is a worker, a fighter and has a great mentality,” she wrote for Eurosport.
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“I admire him more and more.”
Having established herself as a top-ten player and a strong contender for any tournament she enters, Badosa admitted she found Nadal’s mentality even more impressive after becoming a champion herself.
She continued: “Results-wise, I’m never going to get close to him, but now I’m one of the best in the world, I can understand the pressures you have when you’re at that level and can see how well he manages it.
“It seems to me that he is not from this planet mentally and that is even more inspirational.”
Badosa, who has previously opened up on her own mental struggles, also admitted that she has tried to mirror Nadal during tough moments in matches.
“He has always been an example that I have looked at when I have faced difficult moments and if I want to emulate someone, it is Nadal.”
Badosa will open her title defence against either Britain’s Heather Watson, who came through qualifying to make the main draw, or Tereza Martincova.
Meanwhile, Nadal will be looking to keep his winning streak going against the winner of a popcorn first-round match between Sebastian Korda and Thanasi Kokkinakis.