Written by Staff Writer
19 Jan, 2016 | 3:19 pm
Fernando Verdasco sent shockwaves through the Australian Open on Tuesday (January 19) by defeating Rafael Nadal 7-6(6) 4-6 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2 to send the former world number one crashing out in the tournament’s opening round.
The first-round exit was 2009 champion Nadal’s first at Melbourne Park and only his second at a grand slam.
Down 2-0 in the final set, Verdasco dragged himself off the canvas with a barrage of booming forehand winners, breaking Nadal twice to storm to a 5-2 lead.
He broke his compatriot a third time, sealing the match with a cross-court winner that left the Rod Laver Arena crowd stunned late in the day session.
This is Nadal’s 44th appearance in a major tournament, and he’s only previously lost in the first round once, against Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013.
Verdasco, the world No45, will now face Israel’s Dudi Sela in the second round, while Nadal exits a third consecutive grand slam in the first week.
After shaking hands with his opponent and the chair umpire Nadal strode quickly off the court, barely pausing to acknowledge the crowd with a wave.
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