When it comes to his image Fernando Verdasco may have a reputation for being one of the flashier players on the tour but on Wednesday it was his sparkling tennis that did the talking when he almost pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career against Andy Murray.
Only yesterday the big hitting Spaniard joked that he might call Rafael Nadal for advice on how to play the world No. 2 and when he turned up on Centre Court for his maiden quarter- final showdown his form certainly suggested that words might have been exchanged.
Verdasco’s results this year had never once suggested that he would make the last eight, let alone drop only one set along the way but the big hitting left hander meant business when he strolled out on court.
He dictated points for the first two sets with strong serving and blistering forehands that pinned Murray deep into the backhand wing and could scarcely believe his luck when the defending US open champion double-faulted to gift him the first set, and produced errors on crucial points in the second allowing him to race to a two sets to love lead. When the Spaniard’s serve ultimately faltered in the third, Murray shook off his tentative game and eventually prevailed 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
“That 4-3 in the fourth if I made one of those breakpoints that I had, of course would be much more chances for me to finish the match and win in four sets,” Verdasco said.
“But he served great from that moment and then he won the first break point that he had in the fourth and the first break point he had in the fifth so I think he was really successful with his serve and the breakpoints with my serve and it was the key of the match in the fourth and the fifth.”
Although the vocal partisan spectators had to be frequently reminded by the umpire to quieten down during rallies that in some instances totalled 28 strokes, the former world No.7 said he was not distracted by the din.
“It’s like a Davis Cup match, I’ve been playing many matches like that so I have the experience to know how these matches are,” he said. "I didn’t feel uncomfortable, I knew it was going to be like that. When you know before the match it’s going to be like that you’re going out there. It doesn’t distract you.”
Verdasco said he was unable to explain why he played so well at this Championships but cited a change of racket at Eastbourne as a possible explanation, adding that he believed in his game.
The 29-year-old’s previous best Grand Slam result was reaching the semi-finals as No.14 seed at the 2009 Australian Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal in five sets in five hours and 15 minutes.
For now the present loss is too raw for Verdasco to contemplate although he appreciates his attitude is likely to change over the next few days.
“Maybe tomorrow I will be more calm and more relaxed and will realise that I played a good tournament,” he added. “I need to try and keep playing the same way in the next tournament, in the next weeks and months and if I can play like this I will have chances to have good results.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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