Nadal says family instilled fighting spirit in him

Mar 12, 2022; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Rafael Nadal (ESP) celebrates after defeating Sebastian Korda (USA) in a third set tiebreaker at the BNP Paribas open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 12 (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal credited his uncle Toni and the rest of his family for teaching him from a young age how to control his emotions on the court and fight for every point after his epic come-from-behind win at Indian Wells on Saturday.

The Spaniard overcame a 5-2 third set deficit to beat young American Sebastian Korda 6-2 1-6 7-6(3) and advance to the third round of the tournament.

"The reason why I have been fighting during all my tennis career or I have the right self-control or I have the right attitude and fighting spirit is because I grew up with this kind of education," Nadal told reporters after the match.

"My uncle, my family, never allowed me to break a racket, never allowed me to say bad words or give up on a match ... the most important thing was the fact that I grow up with the right values."

The 21-time Grand Slam champion has won all 16 of his matches this year but said despite all of his success, he does not possess super human confidence.

"If people believe that I am a believer all the time that I am going to come back, not true. I am not like this. I don't have this amazing self-confidence that even if I am 5-2, okay, I going to come back. No.

"But in my mind is, okay, is almost impossible. I don't want to give up. I going to keep trying ... just try to keep going and to put the things a little bit more difficult to the opponent."

Korda said he noticed Nadal change his strategy when his back was against the wall trailing 5-2 in the third.

"He started playing a lot different. He moved closer to the baseline," Korda told reporters.

"I could see that he was a little worried, changing up his tactics. I just didn't play good games, and he took advantage of it."

While victory was not assured, Nadal said it would have been if he had simply lied down.

"In that position, in 100 matches, probably you going to lose 90," he said.

"But if you give up, you're going to lose 100. If you are there, you can win 10%."

Reporting by Rory Carroll; editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Los Angeles-based sports reporter who interviews the most impactful athletes and executives in the world. Covers breaking news ranging from the highs of championship victories to the lows of abuse scandals. My work highlights the ways in which sports and the issues of race, gender, culture, finance, and technology intersect.