FLASHBACK: Nadal meets super fan on this episode of The Break


At the 2013 BNP Paribas Open, Rafael Nadal edged Juan Martin del Potro in a three-set comeback to capture his third Indian Wells crown.

While it never gets old finishing a tournament as the champion, it still might not have been Rafa's most memorable moment of the fortnight.

Six days earlier, a little over an hour before play was due to commence at the 1000-level event, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake (originally reported at 5.1) hit the Coachella Valley. Centered 15 miles from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, its impact was felt by those on the grounds.

In a compromising position when it struck, it took Nadal about a “half second” to realize what was happening.

“I was on the massage table preparing for my warmup. I think the massage table moves even worse,” he described to press, after opponent Leonardo Mayer withdrew ahead of their scheduled third-round clash.

““I was very scared. First time in my life.”

Nadal had reason to show a seismic smile after triumphing by tournament's end.

Nadal had reason to show a seismic smile after triumphing by tournament's end.

It was also the first time Roger Federer recognized the presence of a quake, though the Swiss needed a tad longer to understand the situation.

“For the first few seconds I wasn't sure what was happening. I ran outside. Was at the house and I didn't know how long it was going to last, if it was going to get worse from there, or if the worst was already past,” said Federer.

“Thank God family wasn't in the house. They were outside somewhere It was a very strange feeling to have, because you see the windows shaking and you look up and realize you're under a structure It was quite scary for a second there.”


Naturally, Ernests Gulbis wasn’t as fazed.

“You haven't been, I think, [through] the real earthquake. This was nothing,” he told a reporter. “I was on court. I didn't feel it. My coach felt it.”

As those in the press room would learn, Gulbis’ reaction to the turn of events stemmed from an encounter his father went through while hunting in Siberia.

Shared the qualifier, “He was sitting in one small sauna, you know, Russian small sauna where you have to sit like this (indicating crouching), and the earthquake hit and the whole sauna just collapsed. He was able to kick the door out, go out in the middle of nowhere in Siberia. That was a tough one, he said.”

Two days later, Nadal toppled Gulbis over three sets in the fourth round to end the Latvian’s 13-match win streak and then dismissed Federer to seal a decisive quarterfinal.