​​​​​​​Monte Carlo Flashback: Fernando Verdasco tops Djokovic. Rafael Nadal is next

Fernando Verdasco defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2010 Monte Carlo semi-final

by Jovica Ilic
​​​​​​​Monte Carlo Flashback: Fernando Verdasco tops Djokovic. Rafael Nadal is next

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in the 2009 Monte Carlo final. There were expected to fight for the title again a year later, but Fernando Verdasco had other plans. While Nadal reached his sixth straight final in the Principality, Djokovic experienced a heavy 6-2, 6-2 loss to Fernando Verdasco in the semi-final.

It was Verdasco's breakthrough Masters 1000 event, losing the previous nine quarter-finals and passing two more obstacles this time. Fernando ousted Albert Montanes in the last eight and needed only an hour and 32 minutes to beat Novak and set the title clash against Rafa.

The Spaniard produced one of his most excellent displays against the Serb, beating Djokovic for the first time after five straight losses. Serving at 78%, Fernando dropped 15 points in eight service games. He fended off two out of three break chances against one of the world's best returners and dominated the return games to create 12 break points.

Fernando seized five to control the pace from start to finish and race into the final. Djokovic stayed on under ten winners and sprayed 40 unforced errors in one of his worst performances in the early years, never finding the rhythm or a way to impose his shots and seize control.

Novak Djokovic won only four games against Fernando Verdasco in Monte Carlo 2010.

On the other hand, Verdasco tamed his strokes nicely, dominating the shortest and mid-range exchanges to leave the top seed far behind and stay on the title course.

Novak saved a break chance in the encounter's first game and closed it with a service winner to avoid an early setback. The Serb squandered two break points in the next one, and Verdasco brought it home with a forehand winner to level the score at 1-1.

After two commanding holds on both sides, Djokovic hit a double fault in game five to get broken and send the opponent 3-2 up. He netted an easy forehand in the next one and allowed Fernando to cement the advantage and open a 4-2 gap.

Missing one stroke after another, Djokovic gave serve away at love in the seventh game before Verdasco clinched the opener with a service winner a few minutes later for 6-2 after 40 minutes. Struggling behind the initial shot, Djokovic lost serve at 1-1 in set number two.

He pulled it back in the next one following Verdasco's forehand mistake to remain on the positive side. The Spaniard landed a perfect backhand in game five to earn another break and regain the lead. He held at 15 with an ace to move 4-2 in front and take a big step toward the finish line.

With nothing left in the tank on that terrible day, Novak sprayed a backhand mistake to experience another break and fall further behind. Verdasco served for the victory in game eight and sealed the deal for a perfect day at the office and a place in the final against a five-time champion Rafael Nadal.

Fernando Verdasco Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic