Madrid, May 11: Fernando Verdasco, seeded 15th, produced the biggest shock of the competition as he beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Both players played some excellent tennis, but also made a lot of errors on a baking centre court in Madrid in a match that lasted three hours and nine minutes and which ended after a truly incredible final set in which Verdasco produced a heroic fightback Thursday.
The two Spaniards were playing in front of their home fans on a packed center court and neither Nadal nor Verdasco were willing to yield an inch in an intense first set, Xinhua reported.
The heat was such that the set had to be interrupted after the sixth game after a spectator fainted in the stand and needed medical help. Meanwhile, on court, Verdasco was having the best of things, breaking Nadal’s first service game.
The former world No.1 began the second set with a new determination and his powerful return forced a break in the fourth game of what was turning into another tightly contested set, packed with long rallies.
However, the No.2 seed, who had made it clear during the week that he was unhappy with the blue clay playing surface, was not as comfortable as usual on his serve and Verdasco was able to take advantage to break back in the sixth game, before Nadal again forced an advantage in the seventh and served out to level the match at one set all.
The second set lasted 52 minutes on the hottest day of the year and it appeared that the result would depend on which of the two players had the stamina to survive what turned into an enthralling last set.
Nadal looked as if he would run away with the set after breaking Verdasco twice to take a 4-1 lead, before Verdasco pulled it back to 4-2. Nadal again broke his rival to give himself the chance to serve for the match at 5-2.
Verdasco again refused to be beaten and produced a stunning fightback, forcing another service break, before holding his own serve to pull back to 5-4 and again breaking Nadal to level 5-5. The then held his serve to take a 6-5 lead.
In the decisive game, Verdasco took a 0-30 lead, but Nadal levelled with two aces, before overhitting a forehand to hand Verdasco match point, which Nadal saved with another ace.
But a badly miss-hit forehand gave Verdasco another chance and he finished the game with a forehand drive which left Nadal out of the competition.