Madrid Flashback: Rafael Nadal sets Novak Djokovic clash

Rafael Nadal took down Fernando Verdasco in the 2009 Madrid Masters quarter-final

by Jovica Ilic
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Madrid Flashback: Rafael Nadal sets Novak Djokovic clash

Rafael Nadal reached the semi-final in Caja Magica in 2009, looking to become the champion of the first clay-court Madrid Masters event. Rafa met Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-final, battling against the fellow Spaniard for the third time on that year's notable scene.

Rafa prevailed over Fernando in that epic Australian Open semi-final and added another victory in Rome, hoping for a similar outcome in Caja Magica. Verdasco gave his best to challenge the king of clay before losing 6-4, 7-5 in two hours, failing to beat Nadal in their ninth meeting on the Tour.

Rafa saved three out of five break chances and secured four breaks that carried him home. He took advantage of Fernando's over 40 unforced errors and bounced back from 4-0 down in set number two to avoid a decider. World no.

1 held at love in the encounter's first game before Verdasco added his name to the scoreboard with a service winner in game two. The better-ranked Spaniard secured the third game after a forehand winner and squandered three break chances in the next one.

Verdasco grabbed five straight points and avoided an early setback. Rafa closed the seventh game with a backhand winner at the net. The older Spaniard had the answer ready a few minutes later, firing an unreturned serve to lock the result at 4-4.

Rafael Nadal toppled Fernando Verdasco in straight sets in Madrid 2009.

Returning at 5-4, Nadal grabbed a break at love following Verdasco's terrible forehand to steal the opener and gain a boost. Fernando made a fresh start in the second set and broke Rafa with a well-placed backhand.

Verdasco closed the second game with an ace and delivered his second break following Nadal's forehand error for a handy 3-0 lead. Flying over the court in those moments, the 7th seed landed a backhand down the line winner in game four to extend the gap, looking good to steal a set away from the world's leading player.

With no room for errors, Rafa held at love in game five and reduced the deficit to 2-4 when Fernando netted an easy forehand at the net a few minutes later. Nadal placed a forehand down the line winner in game seven to move even closer and erased the second break when Fernando netted a backhand in game eight to level the score at 4-4.

Rafa rattled off the fifth straight game with a service winner and earned two match points on the return at 5-4. Verdasco saved them with powerful serves and brought the game home for a massive boost. Rafa denied a break chance at 5-5 with a perfect drop shot winner and closed the game with a forehand winner after numerous deuces.

Serving to stay in the match for the second time, Fernando lost ground and got broken at love to push Rafa toward the semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic Fernando Verdasco
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