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Verdasco finds a win in Washington

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Originally published on: 04/08/10 11:03

Fernando Verdasco narrowly avoided another opening-match exit at the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, rescuing two match points in the second set to defeat Michael Berrer 4-6 7-5 7-6(6).

Close to his fourth defeat in five matches since losing to compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the last 16 at Roland Garros, Verdasco rallied back from the brink to defeat the 30-year-old German.

“I was just trying to play my best to the end,” said Spaniard after his comeback. “Even [at] match points down I was just trying to put the ball in and make him put the ball in.

“I got a little lucky,” he added, but it was perhaps the luck the world No.10 needed following a disappointing run in the last two months. Bowing out of Wimbledon to 80th-ranked Fabio Fognini at the first hurdle, Verdasco then followed up with a Davis Cup defeat to Michael Llodra before losing to Tommy Robredo in Bastad.

It was a far cry from the form the 26-year-old had displayed in the early part of the season.

The world No.10 conquered Andy Roddick to win his fourth career title on the hard courts of San Jose in February, before claiming his first ATP 500 title on clay in Barcelona two months later. Final appearances in Monte Carlo – where he lost to Rafael Nadal – and Nice followed, leading him into Roland Garros as a dark horse for the title.

An Almagro-onslaught brought an abrupt end to any hopes he may have had in Paris, with the jaded Verdasco slumping to a tired exit in his 43rd tour match of the season.

But a fighting triumph in Washington yesterday may help get his season back on track, with Verdasco recovering from 5-2 down in the second set with breaks in the ninth and 11th games.

“When I broke back, I started to get confidence and started playing much better,” he said. “Those games were the turning point of the match.”

Verdasco still had to come through a final set tiebreak, and the match looked like it might swing in favour of the German when the world No.10 injured his toe.

“I hit it really hard,” Verdasco said afterwards. “It was just a really big pain for about a minute.”

“To get through the match on a hot night, playing with pressure, is a good win.”

Verdasco next faces American qualifier Ryan Sweeting, who dispatched Frenchman Michael Llodra in straight sets. Three-time Washington champ Andy Roddick also progressed with victory over Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja, while John Isner avenged his Wimbledon defeat to Thiemo de Bakker with a 7-6(6) 7-6(8) win.

Marin Cilic and Mardy Fish also reached the third round with straight sets wins, with Fish racking up a career-best 11th consecutive match-victory following his tournament victories in Newport and Atlanta.

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