Madrid – round 3rd + QF’s


Three quarterfinals were scheduled on Manolo Santana (Centre) court, but the first match on Friday between a powerful Juan Martin del Potro [11] and a smart Alexandr Dolgopolov [20] was held on Stadium 3. Del Potro was very solid in all departments, broke his two months younger opponent at the beginning of both sets to notch a 6-3 6-4 victory in 1 hour 23 minutes. The Argentine has been in impressive form since Australian Open winning a couple matches in each tournament he enters, recently is on a 10-match winning streak not dropping a set! It’s almost certain that Del Potro will play for the third time in the season ending championships in London. Fernando Verdasco was a one-day hero. 24 hours after sensational win over Nadal he came back on earth suffering a painful 1-6 2-6 loss to Tomas Berdych in 66 minutes, who a day before dropped even one game less against Monfils! Berdych was superior player over Verdasco from start to finish, playing four consecutive winners in the end (two forehand winners, ace and stretch-backhand volley).
Apparently speed of courts in Madrid is another important factor along with new color, altitude, and semi-indoor smaller arenas. Del Potro and Berdych hit flat shots from both wings as well as Janko Tipsarevic who ousted 7-6 6-3 the defending champion Novak Djokovic. Tipsarevic [8] didn’t lose his serve throughout and showed very good composure because after wasting a triple match point at 5:2 in the 2nd set, was forced to save three break points in the following game – No. 1 in the world “clearly” helped at one of those chances sending an easy ball long. David Ferrer should know very well Almagro’s feelings of losing to Ferrer constantly, because Ferrer has the same problem with Roger Federer. Just one day after extending H2H against Almagro to 10-0, the Spaniard lost for the 13th straight time to Federer, this time 4-6 4-6 being utterly demolished in service game of the opponent – Ferrer managed to win only 6 points in Federer’s 10 service games!

Third round

14-0 in H2H *, 5:2 (30 all) on serve in the 3rd set… is it possible to lose in these circumstances? Especially when the serving player is Rafael Nadal, who had never lost a match trying to close the match twice, and on the other side of the net stands Fernando Verdasco [19], who doesn’t win often tight matches in the deciding set [ albeit had made one magnificent comeback lately, from *2:5 (0/40) in the decider to Javier Marti at Sao Paulo two months ago ]… Fortunately miracles in tennis happen from time to time, it was one of them. Nadal being two points away (twice) in that 8th game, produced weird baseline errors and lost the game. And then, happened something stunning – Verdasco showed signs of belief fist-pumping despite his triumph was far away at that time. It was a typical shift of momentum, the older Spaniard, the home-town boy, was encouraged by the crowd to play as good as he did in the 1st set which he won quiet convincingly. Kick-serves, accurate returns, strong forehands, everything worked very well, and after three quick games Nadal found himself serving to stay in the match! He looked intimidated, correcting his hair and headband more nervous than ever, couldn’t win a rally but responded three times with the fastest services he can deliver, but on ‘deuce’ made an untypical forehand error similar to those when he led 5:2. Verdasco didn’t shiver as Nadal gave him a high ball in the middle of the court, finishing off on the second match point with his trademark shot – forehand on the rise. In the following second he fell on the court and enjoyed the famous victory with tears sinking in shoulders of closest friends and his father – it was only the third round but the style of celebration was characteristic for winning a Grand Slam tournament. What a relief to beat the toughest rival after 3 hours 10 minutes 6-3 3-6 7-5! Verdasco in those 14 straight defeats to Nadal was close to win three times: twice two points away (Queens Club ’06, Cincinnati ’11), once six points away (memorable semifinal at the Australian Open ’09 which lasted over 5 hours). This loss ends Nadal’s 22-match winning streak on clay. “I knew I was in control of the match,” said Nadal. “I lost because I deserved to lose today, even if I was winning 5-2. When the moment came to close [out] the match I didn’t know how to do it. I made a big mistake with a smash at 5-2 and 15/0, but that is just anecdotal. That’s what happened, he played better than me and he beat me.”
When that epic match was concluded, two other Spaniards stuck in the 1st set on Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario court dealing with a very similar rivalry to that of Nadal and Verdasco. David Ferrer ultimately prevailed against Nicolas Almagro [13] 7-6 3-6 7-6 in 2 hours 53 minutes. Almagro wasn’t arguably in their previous 9 encounters as close to win as today, however he wasted six match points in their first meeting six years ago. Today, he led 5:3 in both tie-breaks, the second one was extraordinary, both guys were playing with a full risk manufacturing amazing winners from the baseline. Almagro held three match points (6:5, *7:6, 8:7) but every time the amazingly stable Ferrer responded with offensive strokes (first match point saved with a forehand winner, on another two he forced Almagro’s errors). Ferrer joins the narrow group of active players to win at least 10 matches facing match points (7 of them against fellow Spaniards) #

* Nadal led 13-0 on the main tour, their first official match took place in a Challenger (Hamburg ’03)
# At least 10 MP-down wins (active players):
15-7 Juan Carlos Ferrero; 14-5 Ivo Karlovic
12-12 Roger Federer; 12-11 Andy Roddick; 12-6 Jarkko Nieminen; 12-4 David Nalbandian
10-5 Lleyton Hewitt, Olivier Rochus; 10-4 David Ferrer
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