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Nadal, Murray, Federer raring to go

by Alexandra Willis
Wednesday 7 March 2012

Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer will all begin their main draw matches at Indian Wells on Saturday in cheery spirits after arriving in the desert on the back of very different Februarys for each.

Nadal, who reached the final here last year before losing to Novak Djokovic in what was the first of his seven consecutive tournament final defeats, has spent his time since losing the 5 hour 53 minute epic at Melbourne Park resting and recuperating at home in Mallorca. Playing golf, practising, he joked to the press that "I improved a lot during this month", before re-affirming that for him, a month off was necessary ahead of the tight squeeze that will be the two hard court masters, chock-a-block clay court season, before the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics arrive hard and fast.

"It's important to have periods off, but the result is not immediate," Nadal said. "It is an Olympic year, this is the moment I have to get ready for everything, to think positive and practise as good as I can, and compete every day the same way."

Nadal insisted that after taking part in what he described as "a great battle of the sport" in the Australian Open final, he was not only motivated by working out a way to beat Djokovic, but by improving on his own terms.

"I want to improve for me. To be a better player year by year," Nadal said. "I don't have the spirit of revenge or an obsession with another player."

Federer meanwhile, who went from the curious lows of a dispiriting loss on Switzerland's behalf to the USA in Davis Cup, to the highs of winning Rotterdam and Dubai back-to-back, wins he admitted he "didn't expect", appears to be in very good nick this week as he continues to make an assault on getting back to the top of the tree. "I'm calm, the weather's nice ... I'm in a good place," Federer said.

The third member of the four musketeers, Andy Murray, is in a similar state of mind, if not even better. Buoyed by his run to the Dubai final last week, even if Federer did prove too good at the death, Murray stated that the hard work he has been doing off the court has been exactly what he needed, and as his coaching relationship with Ivan Lendl continues to yield positivity, Murray believes he is hitting the ball "better than ever."

"Losing in the Australian Open final last year was tough, I felt like I was a long way behind," Murray said. "This year has been different, having Ivan has helped. I'm very calm, relaxed, and looking forward to starting the tournament."

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Ones to watch... Jessica Pegula, who played her first career main draw match at Indian Wells today, a tough three-set loss to Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova. Ranked No.306 at the beginning of the week, and having come through qualifying, Pegula's father, No.114 on the Forbes 400 list, is the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. Sporting pedigree of a different kind.

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Happy Birthday... to Petra Kvitova. The Wimbledon champion turned 22, and celebrated by playing doubles with world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.

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For all the reports and results from Indian Wells, visit the official BNP Paribas Open website


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