Rafael Nadal battled back from a set and a break down to claim the biggest title since his return from injury with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the BNP Paribas Open final.

Fifth seed Nadal spent seven months on the sidelines because of his ongoing knee problems but has been in impressive form since his return, winning two titles from three finals before Indian Wells.

And he extended that to three with his biggest win of the year, slowly asserting his superiority until he dominated the final set to seal his record 22nd Masters title - passing Roger Federer's haul of 21.

"It's probably one of the most emotional victories of my career," Nadal said in the post-match presentation ceremony, broadcast on Sky Sports 2.

rafael nadal

Nadal enjoys his Indian Wells win

"The support since I came back has been huge. It's an unforgettable week for me and an unforgettable tournament."

If there were any doubts that the Spaniard would get back to his best following his knee troubles, he has dispelled them this week with victories over Del Potro, Tomas Berdych and, in particular, a quarter-final triumph over Federer.

His rewards, on top of the trophy and prize money, will be a return to the top four ahead of compatriot David Ferrer, and a rest - he has decided not to play in the upcoming tournament in Miami.

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  • TOPSHOTS-TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain drops to the ground and shouts after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in three sets on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TOPSHOTS-TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain holds the championship trophy after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in three sets on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: (***EDITORS NOTE*** THIS PANORAMIC COMPOSITE IMAGE WAS CREATED USING PHOTO STITCHING SOFTWARE) Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina plays against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: (***EDITORS NOTE*** THIS PANORAMIC COMPOSITE IMAGE WAS CREATED USING PHOTO STITCHING SOFTWARE) Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina plays against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain poses the trophy and the flag of Spain after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain lifts the championship trophy after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain drops to his knees celebrating victory over Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina hits a backhand return against Rafael Nadal of Spain on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina hits a backhand return against Rafael Nadal of Spain on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina hits a forehand return against Rafael Nadal of Spain on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point against Juan martin Del Potro of Argentina during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point against Juan martin Del Potro of Argentina during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point against Juan martin Del Potro of Argentina during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point against Juan martin Del Potro of Argentina during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point against Juan martin Del Potro of Argentina during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts between points against Rafael Nadal of Spain on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning a point against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand return to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand return to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain stands by the tropy as confetti flies after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-US-ATP-WTA

    Rafael Nadal of Spain drops to the ground and shouts after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in three-sets on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California, in the men's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain shakes hands with Larry Ellison after he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Day 12

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal of Spain signs autographs after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to win the men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • 2013 BNP Paribas Open - Men's Final

    INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 17: Rafael Nadal (L) of Spain shakes hands with Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina after their men's final match of the 2013 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 17, 2013 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)