I camped out on Armstrong, foregoing the beauty and variety of Schiavone and power and grace of Venus for the baseline crazy of Verdasco vs Ferrer. Ferrer came out blazing and quickly went up 3-0. Clearly the moment was too much for Verdasco as he double faulted and sprayed forehands to lose the first set, 5-7. He managed to lose some of the errors in the second but still couldn’t string together consecutive points to develop a rhythm and stop the damn brainfarts. Full disclosure, I really wanted Ferrer to take this match, because I appreciated his gusto and his attempts at net play. Plus, who doesn’t have a soft spot for the guy overshadowed by Nadal and the photogenic Verdasco? I wanted this to be his moment and for a little while it looked like it would be as he went up 2 sets to love.
Then as Verdasco could only get better, things took a turn. I wouldn’t say that Verdasco played up to his potential, as he did against Nalbandian or Nadal in Oz ’09, it was really a combination of Ferrer losing steam and Verdasco finally getting lucky. Though Verdasco continued to double fault, he stopped doing them at key moments and managed to hold serve through the 3rd and 4th sets and capitalized on his 2 break chances to even things with Ferrer. Frankly I was gutted at this point for Ferrer who looked similarly traumatized as he allowed his lead to slip through his fingers.
We all know the Spanish boys are fit, so this was not going to come down to the typical ‘who’s gonna get tired’ scenario. It was all about who could fuck up less and take the 5th. Ferrer started well by immediately breaking Verdasco but he failed to hold his slim lead and surrendered back the break. Then we had a painful latter set meltdown with traded breaks to take us into a tiebreak. Verdasco immediately loses his two serves and gave Ferrer a 4-1 lead with Ferrer to serve to secure match points. In a painful display of fear or too much desire, Ferrer lost his two serves and Verdasco emerged the winner.
Verdasco collapsed on the ground in relief and gratitude. Of course he will credit his will and self belief to fight back from being 2 sets down, but I will always remember the night Ferrer sacrificed his 2 set lead to a guy who didn’t play perceptibly better but got damn lucky.
Verdasco defeats Ferrer
5-7 6-7(8) 6-3 6-3 7-6(4)