Rafael Nadal will meet Fernando Verdasco (third match, Rod Laver) on Tuesday in a rematch of their 2009 Australian Open semifinals match that lasted for five hours and 14 minutes.
Reflecting on their 2009 clash in his pre-tournament media briefing, Nadal said of Verdasco: “A lot of people always talk me about that match, no? It was a tough one, a great experience … [But] it is not about playing against a lefty, [it] is about playing against a player that has a huge potential, is able to reach a great level of tennis. If you are not playing your best, it is very, very dangerous match.”
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Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Fernando Verdasco — Nadal won their most recent match, in three sets, on clay in Hamburg last summer, and has played better overall since then. But he still isn’t blowing people away, which means that Verdasco should have his chances. We’ll see what, if anything, he can do with them.
While Verdasco’s two victories cannot be entirely discounted, they can be explained. The first one came when the Madrid Masters featured controversial blue clay in 2012. Verdasco took advantage of the circumstances to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. His next win came last spring at the Miami Masters via a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 decision. Nadal, of course, was nowhere near his real self throughout much of 2015–and he was especially poor in the early stages of the season.