Nadal scalp timely boost for Verdasco
Originally published on: 11/05/12 00:00
Fernando Verdasco’s stunning come-from-behind victory got a little lost amidst Rafael Nadal's threat to boycott the Mutua Madrid Open next year, but it was a win that could deliver a real boost for the unpredictable Spanish shot-maker ahead of the French Open.
Not always able to keep a cool head in pressure situations, the world No.19 found himself staring down the barrel of a 14th successive defeat to the 10-time Grand Slam champion at 5-2 down in the third set. But refusing to roll over inside the Magic Box, the 28-year-old Madrid native pulled off the ultimate trick, scoring three breaks in a row to win 6-3 3-6 7-5 before hitting the deck and bursting into tears.
“It’s something really difficult to believe and one of the happiest days of my life and in my career,” said an emotional Verdasco.
''After losing so many times against honestly the best player on clay ever, to beat him on clay is the maximum. I don't have words. I am happy for the win, although it is difficult to hold myself together now. I need to calm down, rest and get ready for the next match.''
Verdasco had taken just one set from Nadal in their six meetings since their epic Australian Open semi-final in 2009 that lasted five hours and 10 minutes, and only one set in their first six matches before that – on the grass of Queens Club in 2006.
The world No.19 plays Tomas Berdych next in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since he made the last four in Rome two years ago – a week after he reached his maiden Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo, where Nadal dealt him the mother of all thumpings in a 6-0 6-1 victory in Monaco.
The five-time ATP titlist made the Acapulco final this February, losing to David Ferrer, and also reached semi-finals in Auckland in January and Barcelona last week. Despite his proficiency on clay, Verdasco has never surpassed the fourth round at the French Open, reaching that stage for four straight years from 2007-2010 before falling to the recently retired Ivan Ljubicic in the third round last year.