- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. (AP) - Rafael Nadal won with his powerful groundstrokes _ and with an excellent plan.

Adjusting to playing in swirling winds that made it difficult even to toss the ball up to serve, Nadal breezed to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Andy Murray in the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday for his second Indian Wells title in three years.

“The conditions today were really difficult. But I think I had a good strategy and played a really good match under the conditions,” Nadal said. “Probably Andy didn’t play his best because of the conditions, but I think I played a really complete match, moving very well.

“I never stopped the legs during the match and I think that was the key. Maybe I accepted the conditions a little bit better than him. Maybe I had a little bit more positive attitude than him.”

No. 1 Nadal explained his windy-day strategy.

“I tried to play inside the court, go to the net some, move all the time,” he said. “It’s important that you know you don’t have to find the lines all the time, but hit the ball inside, not so close to the lines.”

Murray, ranked fourth, gave him credit.

“Rafa dealt with it well. He hit the ball cleaner and just seemed to get himself in better positions than I did. You want to be in the best position possible to hit each ball and I wasn’t,” the 21-year-old Scot said. “That’s why he managed to dictate most of the points.”

The 22-year-old Spaniard rode his usual powerful forehands to the lopsided win, ripping 10 winners from that side to Murray’s one. Nadal also was efficient at the net, winning eight of 11 points to Murray’s 5-of-10.

Like Nadal, Vera Zvonareva adapted better to the on-and-off gusts than did her opponent, beating defending champion Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (5) 6-2 in the women’s final.

Zvonareva added the singles trophy to the one she won in doubles with Victoria Azarenka a day earlier. Zvonareva had beaten Azarenka in their singles semifinal. No. 6 Zvonareva joined Lindsay Davenport as the only women to win the singles and doubles title at Indian Wells in the same year. Davenport did it twice, in 1997 and 2000.

Zvonareva, too, had a plan.

“After a couple of games, I knew that the conditions were very difficult and it’s not going to probably change and I have to fight for every point, have to adjust my game,” she said. “Even though I had some mistakes and some frustrating points with the wind, I was still trying to put as many balls as I can in the court, trying to concentrate.”

Ivanovic, who made 46 unforced errors to Zvonareva’s 23, said the conditions were the worst she’s played in.

“It wasn’t much about the game plan. It was just who can handle the conditions better, and who can stay probably mentally tougher through it,” Ivanovic said.

“Today, she did. Yeah, she played really well.”



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