Indian Wells, CA (Sports Network) - Rafael Nadal notched his 600th career win, rallying to beat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday's final at the $4.33 million BNP Paribas Open.
The streaky match lasted nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Nadal, seeded fifth, jumped out to a 3-0 lead on del Potro, who fought off a two break points to hold in the fourth game.
Del Potro brought back with a forehand return winner and consolidated the break to even the first set at 3-3.
Nadal momentarily quelled del Potro's momentum with a love service game, but the seventh-seeded del Potro won the next five games. He broke Nadal to go up 5-4 and secured the first set with a lunging forehand volley winner.
Del Potro broke Nadal to open the second set and saved a break point for a 2-0 lead.
Now, it was Nadal's turn to battle back. Down 3-1, he won five straight games to force a decisive third set.
Nadal converted his fourth break point of the third set to take a 2-1 lead, then closed out a love hold with an ace to go up 5-3.
Del Potro saved three championship points, but Nadal wound up securing his third Indian Wells title on his serve as del Potro sent a forehand return wide.
Nadal appeared in his fourth final in as many events this season, proving he is fully recovered from a left knee injury that sidelined him for seven months.
However, he has withdrawn from the Sony Open in Miami.
Off to the best start of his career at 17-1, the Spaniard suffered his lone setback on the year to Horacio Zeballos in the Vina del Mar final in February. He has since won 14 matches in a row, capturing clay-court titles at Sao Paulo and Acapulco, and his latest triumph will move him up to No. 4 in the world rankings.
Nadal earned his 53rd career singles title and a record 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. He had not fared well recently in hard court finals, losing six straight following a win in Tokyo on Oct. 10, 2010.
Del Potro, meanwhile, was vying to become the first Argentine to win the title in this tournament's history. He had rallied from a set down to defeat back- to-back Top 3 opponents at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, first Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and then Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Nadal improved his head-to-head record against del Potro to 8-3.