Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco met for the second time in 2015, this one at the BNP Paribas Open. Nadal was looking to exact his revenge on his countryman after he defeated him down in Australia. He did just that, defeating Verdasco 6-0, 7-6(9).
Nadal Delivers Flawless First Set Bagel
After Nadal held to open, Verdasco gifted a break 0-40 down with a double-fault. The world number 65 only hit one first serve in, meaning Nadal got plenty of looks to attack. An ace for Nadal helped him consolidate the break, giving him the much needed quick start he needed. Many could sense that the four seed felt more comfortable out there in the early stages, going for his shots early on, ripping backhands, something he could not do at all against Gilles Muller in his second round match.
As if Verdasco could not have any more problems, he was broken a second time after Nadal went after his return, hugging the baseline, hitting a forehand return winner down the line for a 4-0 lead. Verdasco had a chance to give himself a lifeline in the first with a break point, but the world number five took charge and made it a commanding 5-0 lead.
Serving to stay in the set, Verdasco had a shot to get on the board, but he sent a forehand well long to get the game back to deuce. Nadal closed out the set with a forehand pass down the line, delivering a bagel to Verdasco 6-0. The world number five looked he had completely turned the tables compared to the last set these two played when Verdasco demolished Nadal off the court.
Verdasco’s struggles on serve were the main reason he was demolished in the set. Five double faults, 50 percent of first serve points won, and 16 percent of second serve points won is a losing proposition for anyone. The world number 65 hit 12 second serves in the set, Nadal won 12 first serve points.
Nadal Overcomes Five Set Points To Take It In Straights
Despite a 30-0 and 40-15 lead, Nadal found himself in a battle. Verdasco earned his first game of the match to stop the bleeding to get on the board 1-0 by breaking Nadal. How did the world number five respond? By breaking right back for one apiece, breaking Verdasco at 30 as the world number 65 missed a routine volley. Verdasco reclaimed the lead in the second, breaking the world number five again after Nadal hit three doubles faults. The four seed would break again though in a break fest to start the second
Nadal provided the first hold of the second set for 3-2, holding at love. Holds continued to ensue after the break fest, with each man holding their own for four apiece. Both men held their ground after the first four games, not breaking each other once again as the second set went into a tiebreak. After a wayward forehand gave the first mini-break to Verdasco, Nadal took it right back with a forehand winner of his own for one apiece.
A second routine forehand for Nadal was missed at two-all, to give the mini-break back to the world number 65. Down 3-5, Nadal’s second serve sat up to Verdasco’s forehand as he crushed it 16 MPH faster than the serve, 96 MPH return, setting up triple set point. Serving for the set, Verdasco began to swing a lot less freely than he had, losing two points on serve, to send it to 5-6.
On the third set point, Nadal bludgeoned his forehands and delivered a fantastic cross-court backhand to level the breaker at six-all. Nadal held his second point to set up a match point, but Verdasco saved it with a massive 134 MPH ace up the tee. Verdasco earned a fourth set point thanks to Nadal leaving a second serve return in the middle of the court for him to crush. The four seed saved it but dumped an ensuing forehand into the net to give Verdasco a fifth set point, but then he cracked, sending a backhand wide despite a magnificent down the line return from the world number five.
Nine-all in the breaker, Verdasco crumbled, double faulting to set up a second match point for Nadal on his serve. It was a great effort from the world number 65, but an error gave Nadal the breaker 11-9. Both men had very similar stats in the second set with first and second serve points won. However, Nadal’s ability to hit aggressively in the big moments helped him take this match. He will meet Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.