[CR5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR65] Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
They are close friends and they play together in doubles as a team. It is very hard to compartmentalize your emotional involvement with an opponent when you are on the tennis court; very few players have been able to do so well. The killer instinct gets blunted when you have a vested interest in the person across the net. The first set was a very strange affair as the score indicated. I am not sure what happened to Verdasco in the first set, he was out of sorts. As much as I would like to say that Nadal played brilliant tennis, it was more a case of Verdasco playing horribly. The second was more what I expected from Verdasco, challenging Nadal right to the very end. They traded breaks in the second and no one seemed capable of consolidating their lead.
It was a toss-up whether Nadal would win the second set and the match or Verdasco would force a decider. I sat watching, curious to see if Nadal would step up to the challenge. Verdasco got off to a dominant start in the tiebreak and looked like he would force a third set; however, Nadal clawed his way back into the tiebreak and had set/match point, which got erased with an ace from Verdasco. Nadal made the ultimate error, he double faulted to give Verdasco another opportunity to win the set; yet, neither player seemed willing to take the set, Verdasco would double-fault as well. Both were tentative on their respective set points. Nadal threw in a very shaky final serve, which Verdasco completely mistimed to finally give the set/match to Nadal, 6-0, 7-6(9). I would like to think this means that Nadal is on his way back; however, I am not quite as convinced. He will be tested in his next match by our spotlight player, Alexander Zverev; perhaps then I will get a better assessment of his current game.