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Flashback: Nadal Outlasts Verdasco in Epic 2009 Semifinal
By Chris Oddo
Each day during the Australian Open we will take a trip in our tennis time machine to relive historical moments in the tournament's history. Today we will look at a classic semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco in 2009. (So far, we've revisited: 1.
John McEnroe's infamous AO banishment
; 2. the
Federer and Tipsarevic's classic '08 clash, and
Mary Pierce's triumph in 1995
Steffi Graf's win over Chris Evert in the 1988 final
Marat Safin's semifinal victory over Andre Agassi in 2004
(January 19, 2013) -- Once upon a time, it was the longest Australian Open match ever played, and it stood as the benchmark for physicality in modern tennis. Four years later,
6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4
in the 2009 Australian Open semifinal may not be the longest or the most grueling ever witnessed, but its legacy is still in tact in terms of it being a symbol of Spanish tennis prowess and a declaration of Rafael Nadal's all-court abilities.
A day later, after outlasting Verdasco in a 5:14 thriller that had fans calling it the match of the year before it had even ended, Nadal would win his first Grand Slam on a hard court, further cementing his status as not just a clay-courter, but as a world-beating all-surface player that could rival the de facto leader of the tennis world, Roger Federer, on any surface.
"It was very emotional today; it was an amazing match," Nadal told the press afterwards. "Today, Fernando deserved to win too."
That Verdasco didn't win might be the reason that his career hasn't panned out as many had thought it would since this brutally physical contest took place. He certainly had his chances. He held a 0-30 advantage with Nadal serving at 4-4 in the fifth set, but Nadal, true to form, reeled off seven consecutive points to get to triple match point.
In one last guttural gasp of fury, Verdasco saved two match points, before finally double-faulting to end the struggle on the third.
The left-handed Spaniard has never been back to the semifinals of a Grand Slam since, but that doesn't mean he won't always relish the moment.
"For sure I will have this match on my mind for all my life," Verdasco said afterwards.
So will those of us who watched it as it happened.
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