Novak Djokovic played in back-to-back Rome Masters finals in 2008 and 2009, winning the title and finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal. The Serb failed to repeat that run in 2010, reaching the quarter-final at Foro Italico but falling to Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 3-6, 6-4.
The encounter lasted three hours and 18 minutes, with two rivals pushing each other to the limits. Verdasco ousted Djokovic in Monte Carlo a few weeks earlier and repeated that in Rome to advance into the semi-final. The Spaniard beat the Serb for the fourth time in nine encounters, securing a single break in the decider and bringing the victory home from there.
Fernando grabbed two more points than Novak, illustrating how close they were. Verdasco took 28 out of 42 points on Djokovic's second serve and created 14 break chances.
Novak Djokovic lost to Fernando Verdasco after a marathon in Rome 2010.
The lower-ranked player seized four and emerged at the top despite getting broken five times.
It was a massive battle right from the start, and they needed 30 minutes to wrap up the opening four games. Novak survived a scare at the beginning of the duel to avoid an early setback. They stayed neck and neck until the seventh game when Verdasco grabbed a break and moved in front.
The Spaniard held in the next one for 5-3 and served for the opener at 5-4. Novak broke back in the last moment with a forehand winner to lock the result at 5-5 and increase the drama after grueling 66 minutes! Fernando started all over and clinched another break in game 11.
However, he failed to serve out for the set for the second time, as Novak broke back to introduce a tie break. The Spaniard won it 7-4 after almost an hour and a half for a massive boost. The Serb raised his level in the second set and grabbed breaks in games three and five for a 4-1 advantage.
Verdasco pulled one break back in game six before Djokovic stole his serve again at 5-3 to wrap up the set and introduce a decider. Fernando moved in front with a break at 1-1 following a marathon game and served well to keep the advantage on his side.
The Spaniard served for the victory at 5-4 and fired an ace down the T line to emerge at the top and beat the Serb for the second time within a month.
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