Expect the unexpected. Sport never follows a script and well you’d have to be a very good writer to come up with a match like this!
Fernando Verdasco was the first player to win a point in the match between the two with a stunning double handed backhand up the line however this exceptional early piece of play from Verdasco didn’t really set it him up well for the set as it took 36 minutes for the 32 year old to get on the score board.
Nadal in the opening set was like a dog with a bone, he just wouldn’t let go. Some of the forehand winners he was producing off the racket was incredible.
Above I have put a little diagram of some of the forehand winners I saw from Nadal in the opening 7 games. It doesn’t do the shot justice but they were pretty scary!
My summary of the first set?
Roll on the second set!
I just don’t know where to start. Four games and four breaks of serve. Verdasco hadn’t really improved at all but Nadal’s level had dropped and one word to describe the opening four games of the set? Horrific. I’m not sure Rod Laver sat in the stands would have been too impressed.
Cue a hold of serve which we got! (HALLEJUAH!) Nadal with a 3-2 lead and now the question back on Verdasco who after 11 games yet to hold serve?
Miracles do happen! Fernando held and after four breaks of serve we had four holds of serve with the second set locked at 4-4 but Nadal definitely lost his spark from the first set but did edge ahead at 5-4.
Keep on holding and questions once again were to be asked of Verdasco at 5-6 0-15. Questions were asked but he answered them really well setting up game point with a stunning forehand winner, the best of the match and the set would go to a tie-break!
At the first changer over four of the six points went in the favour of Verdasco who was just a few away from remarkably going to a third set!
At 3-5 a smashing forehand return from Verdasco suddenly set up three set points. All three were saved from Nadal who produced a cracking backhand to level the tie-break at 6-6! What next?
Another error off the racket of Verdasco and from facing set points Nadal now had match point. Well! Drama on centre court as Verdasco’s serve was called out, he challenged and hawk eye showed it in! 7-7!! Then he came up with an outrageously good forehand winner 8-7…
A forehand error at 8-8 from Nadal on his serve set up set point for Verdasco who would serve for the set. Could he do it? No. Another error. 9-9.
Well. Second serve at 9-9 and Verdasco goes for a massive serve which is out and Nadal goes on to seal a very important win!
First set was a masterclass from Nadal, the second was the complete opposite but the former Indian Wells champion came through a tough test in the second set to progress to the next round against an interesting opponent in Alexander Zverev…