Earlier this year in Memphis, there was a little bit of drama as, after his second consecutive loss to the overhyped wundakid Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco was quick to criticize the Canadian’s style of play, saying that he was looking forward to playing Raonic on his favourite surface, clay. He said;
“For me that’s not a real match in tennis. I hope to play soon against him in clay court to show him what it is to play tennis, and play rallies, and run, and not serve.”
Fernando’s words were widely attacked and criticized, including by me, with people branding him a sore loser as he became the butt of jokes, but in hindsight I don’t really think there is anything to criticize. I mean, considering how frustrating it is for me to sit down and simply watch a match like that, I completely get his point and his frustration at having to actually play the match. And besides, I’d much rather players spoke their minds than the politically correct and media trained crap we get from most players, particularly on the ATP tour.
Anyway, that well-anticipated match finally took place this week in Estoril as the pair scraped through their rain-delayed quarterfinals to move into the semis to face each other. Half of the tennis world rejoyced - half hoping that Fernando would get his “come-uppance”, and the other half praying that Fernando would prove his detractors wrong by taking out the 20 year-old.
In the end, neither happened. During the first painfully dull nine games in which both eased through their service games, Raonic recieved treatment for his back during a change of ends. In the tenth game, Fernando managed to do exactly what he said he would do - sucking Raonic into rallies and then making him run. A trademark Raonic ace saved the first set point, but with some uncharacteristic perserverance from Verdasco, he had his second one. And he took it. Then, out of nowhere, the match was over as Raonic retired with that back injury.
Have no fear, though. Awaiting Fernando in the final is none other than Juan Martin Del Potro. I don’t know about you, but that’s one exciting prospect.