38th Clay Court Title for Nadal

In what many would call his first “real” comeback test, Rafael Nadal answered Saturday with a resounding win over David Ferrer in the Mexico Open Final, winning 6-0, 6-2. With the win, Nadal has convinced himself that it’s time to turn it up a notch and compete at the Masters-1000 event here in Indian Wells. After the match, it was obvious Rafa even surprised himself with the performance: “I did not do anything wrong today, I had a great match, almost perfect…I would have never imagined playing at the level that I played today, I’m leaving happy and surprised.”

And speaking of continuing comebacks at Indian Wells, Mardy Fish announced on Twitter that Indian Wells will mark his return to the game: “For those of you wodering when I’m going to play again…Indian Wells will be my first one back. Thanks for all the love. Update on my health situation the past 7 months will be coming as well. Thank you for your support and patience.” Mardy, along with Novak Djokovic will be a part of the LA Tennis Challenge¬†Monday night at the UCLA Pauley Pavillion. First, Tommy Haas will face James Blake, then Mardy will face Novak Djokovic, with the finale featuring Nole and Pete Sampras teaming up against Bob and Mike Bryan.

In Delray Beach, Ernests Gulbis made it through qualifying and all the way to the Final, eventually defeating Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(3), 6-3 in Sunday’s Championship Match. It was Roger-Vasselin’s first appearance in an ATP World Tour Final, and Gulbis’ third career title. Both were ranked outside the top-100, but that should change after this weekend. Gulbis defeated Haas to reach the final and Edouard took-down Isner in three-sets to earn his shot at the Delray title.

In Dubai on Saturday, Novak Djokovic won his fourth Dubai Championship in five years, defeating Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Novak hasn’t lost a match since October and breezed through Dubai without dropping a single set, while Berdych defeated Roger Federer (again) to reach the title match. After the win, Novak said courtside: “To prevail again, to be the last man standing…it was never going to be an easy final – Tomas is a fantastic player and it could have gone either way.” He then took to Twitter to promote his appearance at the LA Tennis Challenge, where he’ll be battling Mardy Fish, the Bryan Brothers…and insane jet-lag.

Let’s talk ladies…at the Mexico Open, Sara Errani had no trouble defending her title against Spain’s Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-0, 6-4. American Bethanie Mattek-Sands made it to the Final of the Malaysian Open, won the first set, but eventually lost to Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 5-7, 3-6. It was Karolina’s first WTA singles title, even after enduring a 40-minute rain-delay after the start of the third set. In Brazil, Monica Niculescu won the title over Olga Puchkova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Venus Williams had made it all the way to the semifinals, where she lost to Olga in three sets.

The LA Tennis Challenge isn’t the only exhibition Monday…BNP Paribas – on top of their sponsorship of Indian Wells – is also hosting an exhibition in Hong Kong featuring Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska (who is replacing the injured Na Li). So…being on the road, Caro hasn’t been there for Rory, after he walked off the course in Palm Beach Gardens after a terrible start to his round on Friday. His management company claims the 7-over start was due to his lack of concentration thanks to a sore wisdom tooth.