ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal edges Verdasco to set Novak Djokovic clash



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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal edges Verdasco to set Novak Djokovic clash

Rafael Nadal was a man on the mission in the opening months of the 2009 season, lifting the first Australian Open crown and adding four more trophies to his tally by May. The Spaniard lost only three matches by the home Masters 1000 event in Madrid, chasing the fourth Masters 1000 crown of the season after Indian Wells, Monte Carlo and Rome.

Rafa beat Jurgen Melzer in his first match in Caja Magica and faced Fernando Verdasco in the quarters, in their third match on the notable scene that year. Rafa prevailed over Fernando in that epic Australian Open semi-final and added another victory in Rome, hoping for a similar outcome at Caja Magica.

Verdasco gave his best to challenge the king of clay, only to experience a 6-4, 7-5 loss in two hours, failing to beat Rafa in their ninth meeting on the Tour. Rafa saved three out of five break chances and secured four breaks that carried him home, taking advantage of Verdasco's over 40 unforced errors and bouncing back from 4-0 down in set number two.

World no. 1 held at love in the first game before Verdasco added his name on 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, allowing Verdasco to claim five straight points and avoid a break with a service winner.

Rafa closed the seventh game with a backhand winner at the net, and the older Spaniard had the answer ready a few minutes later when he fired 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 a terrible forehand from Verdasco, who wasted everything he was building in the previous 45 minutes.

Making a fresh start, Fernando secured a break at the beginning of the second set with a well-placed backhand that Rafa failed to control. Verdasco closed the second game with an ace and opened a 3-0 advantage following Nadal's forehand error.

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 at least 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 Verdasco 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 in game ten.

Verdasco saved those 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 to move 6-5 up.

Serving to stay in the match for the second time, Fernando got broken at love to push Rafa into the semis and a clash with Novak Djokovic.