ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal wastes 5-2 vs. Verdasco on blue clay

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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal wastes 5-2 vs. Verdasco on blue clay

The Madrid Open moved to Caja Magica in 2009, gathering the world's best players on clay instead of an indoor hard. As was expected, Rafael Nadal was the dominant figure on his favorite surface in front of the home fans, losing finals in 2009 and 2011 and winning the title in 2010.

Nadal's Madrid run wasn't that good in 2012 on the controversial blue clay, a unique surface that never got a second chance after this edition. Nadal made a winning start in Madrid 2012, beating Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2 in 80 minutes.

As it turned out, it was his first and only victory on blue clay, as he suffered a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 loss to Fernando Verdasco in the third round after three hours and ten minutes. After 13 straight losses against his compatriot, Verdasco toppled Nadal for the first time, prevailing in the decisive moments of the third set after a massive comeback to reach the quarters.

Verdasco took four points more than Rafa and saved nine out of 15 break chances to reduce the deficit in his games. He converted seven out of ten opportunities on the return, using those nicely and crossing the finish line first.

Rafa stayed under 20 winners and counted to almost 40 unforced errors, unable to find the rhythm that would carry him over the top. Nadal wasted three break points in the opening game and got broken at love in game two following a double fault.

Rafael Nadal wasted a 5-2 lead in the final set against Verdasco in Madrid 2012.

Verdasco also hit a double fault in game three to lose serve and bring the rival back to the positive side. Fernando secured another break in game six and held after a marathon game to extend the advantage.

Serving for the set at 5-3, Verdasco held at love with an ace to move a set away from the triumph. Raising his level, Rafa forced Fernando's error in the second set's fourth game to open a 3-1 gap before Verdasco pulled the break back in game seven.

Staying calm, Nadal scored another break in game eight and held at 15 for 6-3. Carried by this momentum, Rafa broke Fernando at 1-1 in the final set and again at 3-1 for a massive boost. Verdasco pulled one break back before facing three break points at 2-4.

Nadal broke him and opened a 5-2 gap, looking good to seal the deal a few minutes later. Fernando was ready to fight until the end, producing breaks in games eight and ten to level the score at 5-5. Verdasco fired a service winner in game 11 and rattled off the fifth straight game with a forehand winner at 6-5 that carried him over the top and one of his finest victories.