From the moment that the draw was announced the tennis world collectively had flashbacks to the last time that Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco met at the Australian Open. Their semi-final match in 2009 was 5 hours and 14 minutes of brutal athleticism and extraordinary shot making that led to repeated standing ovations from a full house in awe of the quality of tennis on display.
Fast forward seven years and we were treated to an entirely different dynamic between the two Davis Cup compatriots. Coming into this match Verdasco had beaten Nadal 2 of the last 3 times that they played. The match started with a couple solid holds. It was clear that they wouldn’t reach the lofty heights of their 2009 epic. Verdasco’s forehand cross court was working very well for him and Rafa was missing his forehand quite a bit. The first set went to a tiebreak and Rafa, unfortunately, double faulted at 6-6 and Verdasco took the set. As the match went on Rafa gained a little more confidence and put a little more oomph on his shots. The highlight of the match was the set point of the 2nd set, that point was the only sequence of the match that had shades of their 2009 encounter. It was an insane point.
The remainder of the match had its ebbs and flows with both men making errors and trying to keep the momentum. (At this point, Ataraxis00 had to go to bed.) Verdasco managed to force a 5th set where Rafa went up a break in the very first game. Just when you thought Rafa had control of the match, Verdasco started red-lining and broke back. He then broke Rafa in the 6th and then the final game of the match. Verdasco defeats Rafa 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||64%||61%|
|1st Serve Points Won||75/108 (69%)||85/118 (72%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||31/62 (50%)||33/74 (45%)|
|Break Points Saved||10/15 (67%)||10/16 (63%)|
|Service Games Played||25||28|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||33/118 (28%)||33/108 (31%)|
|Second Return Points Won||41/74 (55%)||31/62 (50%)|
|Break Points Won||6/16 (38%)||5/15 (33%)|
|Return Games Played||28||25|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||106/170 (62%)||118/192 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||74/192 (39%)||64/170 (38%)|
|Total Points Won||180/362 (50%)||182/362 (50%)|
|Net Approaches||7/10 (70%)||25/27 (93%)|
(It’s 2:30 AM, and I’m tired and sad. I do not guarantee the accuracy of those stats. Visit the AO site to get less sleep deprived ones.)