The Telegraph
Saturday , March 8 , 2014
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‘Wawrinka loss toughest of my career’

Indian Wells: Reigning Indian Wells champion Rafael Nadal has said that his loss in the Australian Open final still hurts him. The world No.1 suffered a devastating loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the final, after a back injury prevented him to play at the top of his game.

“It was the toughest loss of my career,” Nadal said, at a recent press conference.

“It’s tough to be there for an hour-and-a-half, knowing you will not win. Not winning is not the most important thing —the worst thing is knowing you will not compete.”

Nevertheless, the 27 year-old insisted that he may not have been able to beat Wawrinka even if he was fit.

“I am a great loser, I never think about the losses, just a few hours then I forget and try to look to the next thing,” he said.

This defeat however took a little more out of him. “But it’s true that after that it takes a bit more time.”

The Spaniard took a couple of weeks off to recover from that injury, and returned to the circuit in Rio where he contested at the Rio Open.

What’s more, the 14-time Grand Slam champion went on to win the event, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov in the final.

Here at Indian Wells, Nadal will almost certainly be hoping that he is back at his best. He remembers his triumph last year, quite fondly.

“It was a very emotional moment for me,” Nadal said. “It gave me more confidence that I was ready to be back, ready to compete.”

There is something about the allure of a desert setting that energises Roger Federer.

A week after adding a record sixth crown at Dubai, the most decorated player in BNP Paribas Open history seeks a fifth title in his return to Indian Wells.

“I’m excited to play here in Indian Wells,” said Federer. “I’m happy to see the hard work is paying off and the decisions I made midway through last year were the right ones. I am playing nicely now and pain-free, which is the goal.

“Winning cements that feeling. It’s more fun and it gives me confidence. It makes me more eager to play more and win more.”

Federer, who is off to a strong start in 2014 with 13 victories in 15 matches, admitted that he is playing more freely and thinking clearer than he was during a taxing 2013 campaign. Consecutive comeback wins over Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych were exactly what the Swiss needed entering the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year.

“It’s nice beating Novak, but for me what stands out is winning a tournament and holding a trophy in my hands,” Federer added.

“It was an added bonus to beat him on a hard court. He’s had a great last six months or so. This was a big win for me. So was beating Berdych. He’s been having a great season so far. It’s nice to win and beat so many Top 10 guys now in two months.”