• Madrid Open

Awesome Verdasco topples Nadal

ESPN staff
May 10, 2012
Rafael Nadal slides into a backhand © Getty Images

Fernando Verdasco produced a stunning fightback from the brink of defeat to secure his first career win over Rafael Nadal and reach the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open.

Having surrendered a position of authority, Verdasco looked out for the count when two breaks down in the final set. But he willed himself back into the contest, reeled off successive breaks, and broke again to claim an amazing 6-3 3-6 7-5 win.

Verdasco dismissed any notion that he would wave the white flag from the off, having lost their previous 13 meetings, as he made a powerful start, seemingly content on the court. He broke serve on both occasions he had a look at a Nadal serve to take the opening set.

It was not vintage Nadal in the first set, it was not vintage throughout, but he eased his way into the contest and a crunching backhand winner - his first of the match - helped him secure a break in the second set.

Verdasco broke back when Nadal mis-hit a forehand way over the baseline, but it sparked the world No. 2 into life. Booming shots from the baseline put Verdasco under pressure and a double fault handed Nadal a second break - which he converted into a set-levelling opportunity.

Verdasco had a chance at the start of the final set, but a stunning backhand from Nadal helped him hold his opening service game and Verdasco appeared to tighten up having passed up the opening. He threw a half-court ball into the net and sent a forehand long to gift Nadal two break points.

The first was fended off but not the second as Nadal edged himself in front. The wheels came off for Verdasco after Nadal got the better of a couple of net-cords and he surrendered a double break.

But seemingly down and out, the match swung back Verdasco's way and the pivotal moment came when Nadal inexplicably hit a simple smash into the net. It brought a shift in momentum and an inspired Verdasco broke on three successive occasions to claim a famous win.

Up next for Verdasco is Tomas Berdych who produced a dominant display, dropping just four points on serve, as he crushed Gael Monfils 6-1 6-1.

Fifth seed David Ferrer needed almost three hours to see off the threat of Nicolas Almagro. Both men sent down 13 aces apiece but it was Ferrer who would ultimately prevail 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(8). Janko Tipsarevic, the No. 7 seed, was also forced to dig deep, the Serb finally coming through a gruelling encounter with ninth seed Gilles Simon 7-6(3) 5-7 6-1. Tenth seed Juan Martin del Potro had no such problems, easily dispatching Marin Cilic in straight sets.

Alexandr Dolgopolov pulled off a shock by securing a 7-5 3-6 7-6(2) win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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