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Verdasco left to rue missed chance

January 31, 2009 13:30 IST

Fernando Verdasco was kicking himself after narrowly missing his chance to beat fellow Spaniard Rafa Nadal in an epic five-set semi-final at the Australian Open in the early hours of Saturday.

After around five hours of slugging it out with the world number one, Verdasco had a sniff of upsetting Nadal, who was down 15-30 while serving at 4-4 in the deciding set on Rod Laver Arena.

The ultra aggressive Verdasco, who used his booming forehand to help peel off an eye-watering 95 winners, lined up another to take two break points with the possibility of serving for the match.

Instead, his forehand found the net, Nadal held serve then broke Verdasco to win the longest match ever at the Australian Open and set up a final against Roger Federer on Sunday.

Nadal now has a career 7-0 record against Verdasco.

The energy-sapping five hour 14 minute match beat the previous record held by Boris Becker and Omar Camporese since 1991 by three minutes.

"I was thinking that I needed to go 100 percent for that game," Verdasco told reporters. "With 15-30, it was second serve, and I miss my forehand to the net.

"I think that it was my biggest chance in the fifth set.

"In that moment, I thought that it was good to try to take the forehand and hit an aggressive forehand and I missed it."

Verdasco was aggressive throughout the match, reeling off winner after winner, while he also watched Nadal run down shots that few others would not have come close to getting.

"It was a long match, so it is normal that I made a lot of winners. I was taking more risk than him also," Verdasco added of his 76 unforced errors.


"For sure I made more unforced errors than him.

"I was playing more aggressive than him and trying to look for the winner more than him [because] ...everybody knows that he is the best player making [returns].

"He gets unbelievable balls [and] has unbelievable legs.

"I think that he always [has] a chance to put the ball in."

Nadal had 20 opportunities to break Verdasco throughout, but succeeded only four times -- the last when he sealed the match.

Verdasco showed signs of fatigue in the final set with his first serve accuracy, which had averaged over 70 percent until the fifth, dropping markedly to just 56 percent.

Three of his four double faults were also conceded in the final set, two of those in the final game with Nadal securing his place against Federer when Verdasco's second serve smacked into the net on match point.

"Tennis is like this sometimes. What can I do?" Verdasco said. "I was trying the same like in all the other games in the match....just to try a good second serve.

"But I think I need to be so happy with the level I was serving. I made 20 aces and I was serving 210 [kph], 215 a lot.

"So I cannot think about [making] two double faults in one game.

"[It] is sad to play one match like this and [that I] lost after five hours.

"But I need to be proud for the tournament I [had] and the level I played today. I think it was an unbelievable match."

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