ThrowbackTimes Monte Carlo: Fernando Verdasco stuns Novak Djokovic to set Nadal clash

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ThrowbackTimes Monte Carlo: Fernando Verdasco stuns Novak Djokovic to set Nadal clash

In 2009, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played for the Monte Carlo title, and everyone expected them in another final a year later after they both reached the semis. Nadal took down David Ferrer to advance into the sixth straight title match in the Principality, but Novak wasn't there to follow him, suffering an unexpected 6-2, 6-2 loss to Fernando Verdasco in an hour and 32 minutes!

Verdasco had reached nine Masters 1000 quarter-finals at the Masters 1000 level before Monte Carlo, losing them all and still seeking the first semi-final run at the premium ATP series. That all changed when he ousted Albert Montanes in three sets, passing that barrier and setting the clash against Novak Djokovic, where he produced one of the career's most excellent displays to move into the first Masters 1000 final.

In the previous five meetings, the Serb defeated the Spaniard and was the favorite in this one, only to experience the season's worst loss. Serving at 78%, Fernando dropped 15 points in eight service games, fending off two out of three break chances against one of the world's best returners and dominating the return to create 12 break points, seizing five to control the pace from start to finish and race into the final.

Djokovic had under ten winners and over 40 unforced errors in one of his worst performances ever, never finding the rhythm or way to impose his shots and seize control.

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

On the other hand, Verdasco tamed his strokes nicely, dominating in 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 first game and closed it with a service winner to avoid an early setback, squandering two break points in the next one that Verdasco brought home with a forehand winner to level the score at 1-1.

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

Missing one stroke after another, Novak 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 big time, Djokovic lost serve at 1-1 in set number two, pulling it back in the next one following Verdasco's forehand mistake to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard.

The Spaniard landed a perfect backhand in the game that followed to earn another break and regain the lead, holding at 15 with an ace to move 4-2 in front and take a big step towards the finish line. With nothing left in the tank on that terrible day, Novak sprayed a backhand mistake to experience another break, with Verdasco sealing the deal after hold in game eight for a perfect day at the office and the place in the final against the five-time champion Rafael Nadal.