Rafael Nadal news: Australian Open champion is the man to beat in Indian Wells, says tournament chief

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Rafael Nadal fixing his headband

There are several younger players knocking on the door, but Rafael Nadal is the favourite to win the BNP Paribas Open, according to tournament director Tommy Haas.

Nadal has been in blistering form so far this campaign as he opened his season by winning the Melbourne Summer Set and followed it up by winning the Australian Open to become the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles.

And he continued his unbeaten start to 2022 at the Mexican Open a fortnight ago as he won the title to go 15-0 for the year.

Next up is the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year in Indian Wells and Haas is backing three-time BNP Paribas Open champion Nadal for the title.

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“Rafa Nadal is now 35-years-old and he’s never had a start to the season like this one, coming back from injury, winning three titles,” he said on the Tennis Paradise Podcast.

“He is, in my opinion, the guy to beat here, there is no doubt about it. And he obviously enjoys it here very much.”

The German added: “There are younger guys like [Andrey] Rublev, you look at [world No 1 Daniil] Medvedev trying to prove a point, [Alexander] Zverev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, there are a lot of guys knocking on the door but Nadal has to be the favourite going into Indian Wells.”

In his press release to confirm his participation in the BNP Paribas Open, Nadal mentioned that he is looking forward to playing tennis and golf in Indian Wells and the fact that he can get his clubs out will give him some added comfort while away from home.

“He is one of the players that gets to stay at Porcupine Creek, Larry Ellison’s private residence, where he can play 18 to 36 holes of golf every day if he wants to,” Haas said.

“He likes it there and wants to stay for as long as he can. If he’s healthy, watch out.”

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